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King David playing bells 





The Lincoln School of Teachers College, 
Columbia University 

With a Foreword by 


The Lincoln School of Teachers College, 
Columbia University 


Copyright, 1028, by 
Rand M^Nally & Company 
All rights reserved 


For much of the material in this book the author is in- 
debted to Mr. WilHam Gorham Rice, author of several 
works on the carillon, and to Mr. H. B. Walters, whose 
book on The Church Bells of England afforded a text of 
great value. 

Acknowledgment is also due for courtesies shown by 
the following publishers : Houghton Mifflin Company (by 
permisssion of and by arrangement with) for poems by 
Henry W. Longfellow and two selections from Longfellow's 
Diary; Dodd, Mead & Company; the Groher Society; by 
the Asia and Mentor magazines, and for a large num- 
ber of photographs from the Crosby-Brown Collection of 
Musical Instruments furnished by the Metropolitan 
Museum of New York. 

For courtesies extended by Mrs. Marjorie Barstow 
Greenbie, Mrs. Eloise Roorbach, Mrs. De Witt Hutchings, 
Mr. Frank A. Miller, Mr. Frederick Rocke, Mr. John D. 
Rockefeller, Mr. Adolph Weinman, and many others, 
thanks are due. 

To the bell makers — Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, 
England; John Taylor & Co. Bell Foundry of Lough- 
borough, England; Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New 
York; Bevin Bros, of East Hampton, Connecticut — all of 
whom have contributed to the making of this book, the 
author is most grateful. 

The author is especially indebted to the children of the 
Lincoln School, whose interest in bells gave stimulus to 
the research which has resulted in this book. 

Made in U. S. A. 




A Foreword vii 


I. Introductory i 

II. Bells of Primitive Peoples ... 9 

III. Bells of Ancient Civilizations . . 22 

IV. The First Christian Church Bells . 34 
V. The Sacred Bells of Ireland . . .41 

VI. Celtic Bell Lore 47 

VII. Bell Making ........ 57 

VIII. Inscriptions 74 

IX. The Baptism of Bells ..... 84 
X. Different Uses of Church Bells . 96 

XI. Bell Hanging 116 

XII. Peals and Change Ringing . . . .125 

XIII. Ringing Societies 138 

XIV. Bells as Musical Instruments: 

Played by Hand 149 

XV. Clock Bells 158 

XVI. The Story of Big Ben 169 

XVII. Chimes 178 

XVIII. Carillons in General . . . . .187 

XIX. Important Carillons 200 

XX. Doctor Burney on Carillons (1775) . 215 

XXI. The Bells of Russia 220 

XXII. Other European Bells 231 

XXIII. European Bell Legends 247 

XXIV. The Bells of America 268 

XXV. Chinese Bells 294 




XXVI. China's Big Bells and Their Legends 309 

XXVII. The Bells of Japan 316 

XXVIII. Japanese Bell Legends 326 

XXIX. The Bells of India 332 

XXX. Burmese Bells 341 

XXXI. Bells and Buddhism 351 

XXXIL Bells and Architecture . . . .359 

XXXIII. Various Kinds of Bells and Their 

Uses 377 

XXXIV. The Miller Bell Collection . . . 395 
XXXV. The Poetry of Bells 402 

XXXVI. School Experiments in Bell Making 

AND Playing 430 

The Bibliography 442 

The Index 449 


An abundance of good reading material adds much to 
the value of music in education. But the reading material 
must be vital ; it must really mean something to the reader. 
This idea is accepted, indeed is basic in the educational 
practices regarding history, science, and literature; and 
those subjects have an abundance of books which are fairly 
well graded to the different levels of advancement. 
Music, like other fine arts, of necessity has been largely 
a ''doing" subject, and because of that fact it has become 
much less of a "reading" subject than seems best. It 
has its wonderful literature, although inadequate perhaps 
as a full record of its cultural development. Certainly 
more needs to be done toward the development of reading 
on music subjects for both school and home. It is hoped 
that this book about bells will prove interesting to adults 
as well as to pupils in schools. 

Bells is the outcome of studies made especially for the 
benefit of a group of pupils in the Lincoln School who were 
learning to play Swiss bells in their Creative Music periods. 
These pupils had already explored the field of other per- 
cussion instruments; they had made drums, Pan pipes, 
and marimbas, and had played on them not only original 
tunes but folk songs and classic themes. Bells seemed also 
to challenge them to exploration. They wanted to make 
bells : to know who invented bells, how many kinds there 
are, how tuned, what they are used for, what countries 
have the best bells. These and other questions caused 
the author and the children who were guided by her to 
begin a genuine search for facts about bells. 



At first there seemed to be little material available. 
Mr. William Rice's books about carillons, and Mary 
Tabor's small bell anthology were useful American books 
on the subject. The Old World offered several interest- 
ing volumes, many of them gray with age and hidden 
away as if the world were to forget the old legends and 
superstitions and the many interesting facts about the 
bell, which has been a common messenger to all mankind. 

None of the printed material as found, however, was 
quite suitable for the needs. But many a musty old 
magazine of forgotten days yielded a rich contribution to 
the subject. From many divisions of the New York 
Public Library, from the Congressional Library at 
Washington, and from foreign countries, materials were 
gathered. This material was organized into the thirty- 
six divisions shown by the chapter headings. Then 
began the preparation of short accounts of famous bells, 
or of the folk lore or religious stories associated with 
certain bells and their uses. Most of this material was 
mimeographed for the children whose interest had initi- 
ated the search. Adults who were interested in music 
also used and enjoyed the stories. The pupils made bells 
— wooden bells, clay bells, glass bells — and wrote stories 
and poems about bells. The search for authentic source 
materials was long and extended to far countries, and con- 
tinued as the writing proceeded. Collections were made 
of drawings and photographs and separate descriptions of 
bells from all over the world, with the hope that the 
various types might be adequately represented. Effort 
has been made to include the world's famous bells, and 
to present, as fully as one volume may, the kinds of bells 
and the uses which people have made of them. 


This book is designed for the instruction and growing 
pleasure of those students and citizens who may be led 
to catch a bit of the inexpressible glow of satisfaction which 
music has given to sensitive humans throughout the ages. 
In all countries one may see the busy streets slow down 
and a measure of appreciation become evident when any 
of the famous bells begin to ring. The aim of this book 
is to carry to all a little of this widespread feeling for the 
music of bells. The language is universal and is inter- 
preted through training in sensing of emotional values, 
not by learning technical language forms. It is hoped 
that Bells may make a contribution to America's growing 
acceptance of music as an essential to the best life of her 

Otis W. Caldwell 
Director of the Lincoln School 





In the Middle Ages there Hved in a European 
monastery a friar whose Hfe was one of cheerful 
devotion to his church. Every day — a dozen times 
a day — he moved at the summons of a sweet -toned 
bell that hung in a tower within the monastery. 
It was a large bronze bell which had been cast 
more than a hundred years before, on those very 
grounds, and a Latin inscription ran around the 
bell which Lorenz had one day climbed the tower 
to read: Cantabo laudes tuas Domini^ (*'J will sing 
thy praises. Lord''); and many times after that he 
said to himself, ''How well the bell carries out its 
own plan!" 

There were other bells, but this one seemed to 
speak most intimately to Lorenz. The first thing 
the friar heard, every morning in the year, was: 
** Arise, Lorenz! To prayers, Lorenz!" 

and as he listened further, he always thought he 
heard it sing the motto which it carried on its 

shoulders : 

''Cantabo laudes tuas Domini!'' 

1 The Latin of medieval times is not the perfect Latin of Cicero. 
Wherever medieval inscriptions are quoted in this book, divergences 
are retained as found. 


After it had signaled to him many times during the 
day, its last ring seemed to say: 

"To rest, Lorenz, and sleep in peace!" 

The bell was to Lorenz a dear companion that 
roused him, inspired, cheered, encouraged, and 
soothed him; and he loved its clear and vibrant 

Then there came the time^ when the monastery 
was destroyed, and all the bells were taken away. 
The friars grieved over the loss of their home, their 
treasures and sacred relics; but Lorenz missed 
nothing so much as his bell. Morning after morn- 
ing he awoke, unbidden, to miss anew the cheerful 
call to prayers; and night after night he found it 
hard to go to sleep without the bell's vibrant 

After many weeks of loneliness, his restless spirit 
could bear it no longer. So he took his staff, and 
started out to find his lost companion. The bell 
had been carried away by two husky men who 
fastened it to a pole, and placed the pole on their 
shoulders; but whether they carried it away to 
have it melted down for bullets, or to send it into 
another country, he had no means of finding out. 

In those days the way was long from one village 
to another, and the paths were rough. But Lorenz 
little minded that, if he could only find some one 
who could tell him where the bell had been taken. 
For weeks he traveled on foot from village to village, 

^ The Reformation. 


and listened to the bells. ''No, that one is too 
harsh," or "That sound is not my bell," he would 
say to himself, as he heard the different bells of 
every town in that part of the country. Perhaps, 
after all, it was melted, and made into something 

One evening, after walking almost all day, he 
came within sight of the lights of a village. The 
sun had gone down long before. If he could reach 
the village before time for the curfew, he thought, 
perhaps he could rest there for the night, and per- 
haps some one would give him food, for he was 
hungry. So he hastened his steps. But it was too 
late! The ringing of the curfew began, and he 
knew that no stranger might enter the village after 
that. But listen! His keen ear had learned to 
catch every tone quality in the ringing of a bell. 
This curfew bell was signaling the people of the 
village to put out their fires and go to bed, but to 
Lorenz it was singing: 

*'Cantabo laudes tuas Domini! 
To rest, Lorenz, and sleep in peace!" 

He had remembered its tone and recognized it. 
What did he care if he must sleep on the cold ground 
that night, and without food? 

He slept, and dreamed that he was in his old place 
at the monastery, and in the gray of the morning 
his beloved bell was calling, "Arise, Lorenz! Can- 
iaho laudes tuas Domini T' 


When he opened his eyes and saw the fields around 
him, and felt the damp earth beneath him, he remem- 
bered; and hastened into the village. The bell was 
fastened in the belfry of the village church. It 
was indeed his lost companion. 

Here Lorenz would be content to live and die. 
His happiness required nothing more than the bell's 
cheery greeting to remind him of its nearness during 
the day, and send him to peaceful rest at night. So 
the friar gave himself up to be a common laborer 
among the humble peasants of this village, that he 
might end his days within the sound of the bell's 

In years to come, little did the peasants of the 
village know how sweet in the ears of the old man 
who had worked among them for so long was the 
sound of the Gabriel bell, still saying : 

** Arise, Lorenz! To prayers, Lorenz! 
Cantabo laudes tuas Domini!'' 

or how eagerly the tired old friar listened every 
evening for the curfew bell to ring its benediction: 

"To rest, Lorenz! Good night, 
And sleep in peace!" 

The strange, wild music of quivering metal! 
How fitting that this magic token from the bosom 
of the earth should have been, always, the people's 
messenger and reminder, in all parts of the world, 
to rouse them or summon them or frighten them, 
and also to cheer, console, and inspire them! 


Bells are ever with us, and ring for all the great 
changes that come to us, from the cradle to the 
grave. Nations rejoice with bell ringing, and the 
same bells give voice to a nation's sorrow in times 
of national calamity. Who did not hear the bells 
ringing for joy on November the nth, 191 8? The 
hearts of nations were so full of joy and thanksgiving 
for the message of peace which came on that day, 
that there was no adequate expression except to 
ring the bells. How joyfully the ringers hurried 
to their ropes, until all the bells in the world must 
have been ringing at once! For this is one way in 
which all nations alike may express their rejoicing. 
A hundred and fifty years ago bells jo3rfully an- 
nounced the independence of our nation. The writer 
well remembers the tolling of the bells in London 
when King Edward VII died; and there are prob- 
ably many people still living who heard the tolling 
bells express a nation's sorrow over the death of 
our great Lincoln. 

"Bells have rung in historical events, enriched 
literature, colored romances, inspired architecture, 
struck terror to the superstitious, or given conso- 
lation. They have rejoiced with the rejoicing, 
mourned with the grieving, chanted with the 
praying of all nations. They have opened markets, 
announced guests, roused for danger, summoned to 
war, welcomed the victor. They have pealed mer- 
rily for rustic weddings, joyfully announced the 
birth of royal heirs, and tolled with muffled tone 


the passing soul along his way. They have tinkled 
from the ankles of pagan dancing girls, and from 
the sacrificial robes of Levitical high priests. They 
have sorrowfully mourned 'The King is dead!' then 
loyally shouted 'Long live the King!' "^ 

A traveler asleep in the broad expanse of the great 
desert may be suddenly awakened by what he 
believes to be the ringing of the church bells of his 
native village, hundreds of miles away. A weary 
sailor in a tumbling ship on the vast mid-ocean 
thinks he hears the Angelus ringing from the steeple 
of the little church at home, and falls asleep. Napo- 
leon rides over the battlefield, gazing stem and 
unmoved on the dead and dying that cover the 
ground about him by thousands. ' ' The evening bells 
of the neighboring town begin to ring. Napoleon 
pauses to listen; he is no longer the Conqueror of 
Austerlitz, but an innocent, happy boy in Brienne. 
He dismounts from his horse, seats himself on the 
stump of an old tree, and weeps ! ' ' 

The simple sound of bells always stirred the 
inmost depths of the soul of this great conqueror of 

' ' How often, ' ' it has been written of Napoleon, ' ' has 
the booming of the village bell broken off the most 
interesting conversations! He would stop lest the 
moving of our feet might cause the loss of a single 
beat of the tones which charmed him. Their influ- 
ence, indeed, was so powerful that his voice trembled 

lEloise Roorback, "Bells of History and Romance," in The Crafts- 
man, December, 1912. 


with emotion while he said, 'That recalls to me the 
first years I passed at Brienne.' "^ 

Even the stern, iron-hearted William the Con- 
queror was often made to feel and weep by the 
sound of bells. They seemed to him to ring ''with 
a thousand tongues, and every tongue had its own 
quick saying unto his ears; and if they spoke of 
saints in heaven ; if they gave out mutterings about 
sin and hell; — softly, too, did they whisper of 
saint's love and heaven's forgiveness, and hearten 
him, while yet time was, to crave mercy of Jesus, 
and help from Mary."^ 

To a tired old grandmother, sitting in the chim- 
ney corner, the ringing of a bell conjures up her 
wedding day, the festive decorations and the gay 
clothes, the rejoicing of all the merry party, and 
again she walks slowly down the aisle, radiant and 

To another it is a school bell ringing on an early 
morning sixty years ago; the children hurry up the 
lane, and the whiff of a warm lunch basket — alas! 
it is only the sigh of an old man! 

To Mathias, the burgomaster of the play,^ the 
sweet, musical jangle of sleigh bells brings the wild- 
est terror, because it recalls to him the night he 
betrayed his trust, and murdered the rich traveler 
for gold. 

To a poor beggar sleeping on the street, the church 
bells ring Christmas time again in his mother's 

iDe Bourrienne. ^Miscellanea Critica. ^The Bells. 


home, and the happy voices of those he once loved 
call him out of his lethargy to be a man again. 

The witchery — the mastering magic — of bells; 
Where will one find a talisman more powerful? 

Is it any wonder that the feelings of people are 
so bound up with their sounds? When the vast 
still air between earth and heaven is suddenly made 
alive and quivering by the sound of the magic 
metal, is it any wonder that there are then set 
free, phantoms, spirits, memories, that run riot with 
the imaginations of men ? 



In the early ages of the human race, when primi- 
tive man first evoked a vibrant sound from a stone, 
it must have seemed to him the voice of his God 
speaking the mysterious language of Mother Earth. 
For was not stone a part of the sacred underworld? 
Was not the tree also attached to Mother Earth 
in a mysterious way, and would not the peculiar 
sound of hard wood, when struck, seem to have 
some hidden power attached to it? 

The strangeness of these sounds led primitive 
man to invest them with a sacred character. To 
his thinking, everything which he could not under- 
stand was something to be worshiped, and the sound 
of stricken metal and hollow wood must have con- 
veyed to him much that was supernatural. His 
gods spoke to him in the crash of thunder, and in 
all other vibrant and mysterious sounds. 

It was probably a great revelation to him when 
he realized that he too could make mysterious 
sounds by using those things which the gods had 
given him for special communication with them. 
And the first bell — whatever may have been its 
shape or tone — was probably fashioned as a means 
by which man could make his gods hear him. What 


thrills of hope and fear those crude sounds must 
have stirred within him! 

Ever since those early ages, the sound of stone, 
of hollow, resonant wood, and of all the metals 
that come out of the earth, have made a strange 
appeal to the mind and emotions of man. He has 
fashioned these materials into various forms; bells, 
of some kind, have been known all over the world — 
civilized and uncivilized — and practically all primi- 
tive peoples have used them. Rude tribes living in 
the remotest islands in the midst of the sea have 
been found to possess bells; and no matter how 
civilized and cultured people become, they are still 
moved in some way by their sound. 

The first sound-producing instrument which primi- 
tive man invented was probably a rattle. Maybe 
it was a handful of pebbles in a hard sea shell, shaken 
to call the attention of his gods to the dances he 
gave for their benefit. Or he may have used first 
a natural rattle (a nutshell or a dried gourd with 
the seeds rattling on the inside) , and later fashioned 
his first instruments in imitation of these. 

The bell, as we know it, was gradually developed 
from these simple rattles. Many tropical nuts and 
fruits (the coconut, for invStance) offer possibilities 
for natural bells, and primitive peoples still use 
them as such, and also as models for bells of their 
own make. 

The first bells fashioned by primitive man were 
probably made of wood, unless the ancient ** click 


stone "1 may be called a bell.^ Wooden bells of 
various shapes have been made by primitive peoples. 
Figure i — a bell from Africa — was cut from a 
single block of wood. A common type is made of 
two pieces of wood, hollowed out and fastened 
together, with a clapper, or several clappers, hanging 
between them. Large bells made in this way are 

iThis was a resonant stone suspended by a thong and struck with 
a stick or with another stone. 

2The question naturally arises, What is a bell? Webster's Dic- 
tionary implies that a bell must be made of metal. But that definition 
does not take into consideration the wooden and horn and clay bells 
of primitive peoples, nor the wooden temple bells of the Chinese which 
they called chung, the same word they used for their metal bells long 
before European bells or dictionaries in the English language were 
thought of. So if the usage of thousands of years is to be counted, we 
raust give to bells a broader definition. There are several instruments 
which seem so closely related to the bell that, in order to distinguish 
among them, they also must be defined and the typical characteristics 
of each class of instruments given. 

Rattle. A closed cavity in some hard substance, containing one or 
more loose bits of hard substance which, when shaken, strike the inside 
of the cavity and make a noise. 

Jingle. Bits of hard substances so fastened that they strike against 
each other or against another hard substance when shaken. (Often 
called a rattle.) 

Drum. A hollow substance with one or two coverings of skin or 
cloth or some kind of membrane which vibrates when struck. (Kettle- 
drums have one membrane; barrel drums have two.) 

Bell. A sonorous substance with an open cavity which emits a 
musical tone when struck either on the inside or outside of the cavity. 
(A musical tone is a sound of definite pitch.) 

Gong. A slab or plate of sonorous substance which, when struck, 
eniits a resonant tone. 

Cymbals. Two plates of metal which, when clashed together, make 
a resonant tone. 

Castanets. Two pieces of wood or bone which, when knocked 
together in the hand, make a clicking sound. 

Triangle. A bar of metal bent into triangular shape, open at one 

Tambourine. A shallow circle of wood covered with a membrane 
on one side, and with bits of metal fastened to the rim. (Sometimes 
classed with drums.) 

The ancient "click stone" mentioned above would be more prop- 
erly called a gong. The gong is older than the metal bell, and may be 
considered its direct ancestor. When the gong took on a hollow, 
cuplike form it became a bell. When the rattle employed an open 
cavity it, too, became a bell. And when the bell (whether it was made 



very sonorous when hard wood is used, and won- 
derful effects can be obtained with them. In some 
parts of Asia and Africa the natives fasten bells of 

this kind on the necks of 
elephants, so they may 
be found easily, and also 
that the sound of the bell 
may keep away snakes 
and other dangerous ene- 

In the New Hebrides 
Islands the natives have 
a most remarkable kind 
of bell, made from the 
entire trunk of a large 
tree! These instruments 
are often called ' ' drums " 
because of their deep, 
drum-like tones, but their 
shape is more that of a 
bell; they have no mem- 
branes covering the open- 

Metropolitan Museum 

Fig. I. A wooden hell from 
Liberia, Africa 

ings, and are more correctly called "bells." One of 
these great wooden bells stands in the Metropolitan 
Museum of New York. It is about six and one- 

of wood, metal, or clay) acquired a skin fastened over its cavity it 
became a drum. 

Thus we see the close relationship of the bell, the rattle, the gong, 
and the drum. 

Some writers claim that our word "bell" is derived from the Anglo- 
Saxon word bellan, which means to roar; others think it comes from 
the Latin word pelvis, which means basin-shaped. In either case, 
the definition given above is consistent. 





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By permission of the Metropolitan Museum 

Fig, 2. A "bell grove" in the New Hebrides 

half feet high and sixteen inches in diameter — a tree 
trunk hollowed out and rounded at the top, with the 
base left solid. A long opening appears in the side, 
and through this narrow opening, only two or three 
inches wide, all the inside wood is cut out. It is 
struck on the outside with a hard, wooden mallet, 
and its deep boom stirs the imagination of all who 
hear it. 

Figure 2 represents a "grove" of these tree bells 
in the New Hebrides Islands. They are used in 



the religious ceremonies of the natives. Occa- 
sionally, in one of the islands, these bells are beaten 
at midnight as a signal that one of the natives must 
be killed as an offering to their gods. Imagine the 

Merl La Voy 

Fig. 3. A native heating on a Lali at Gizo, in the Solomon Islands 

terror in the village until the name of the victim is 
announced ! 

The natives of the Fiji and Tonga Islands in the 
South Seas make a very interesting kind of wooden 
bell called Lali (see Fig. 3). A traveler ^ some fifty 
years ago described it thus: "Imagine the trunk of 
a tree, three or four feet long, and hollowed out in 
the form of a trough. It is placed upon the ground, 

'Reported by Ellacombe, in Church Bells of Devon, 1872. 


Upon some elastic body, generally on a coil of rope, 
and to protect from the rain, covered by a sort of 
roof. When the natives want to give the signal 
for Divine Service, they strike the mouth of the bell 
with a mallet, which produces a sort of stifled roar. 
I should have thought that it could only be heard 
at a short distance, but my mistake was great. 
There are Lalis the sound of which may be heard 
for a distance of twelve miles when the air is calm, 
and yet when you are near one, the sound is not 
sufficiently loud to startle you in the least; but as 
you recede it becomes clearer, more mild and 
musical. When you go to a village to hear its 
Lali, do not judge from the distinctness of the sound 
which strikes your ear that you are approaching 
the place, for you may be mistaken. The Lali is, 
therefore, the favorite instrument at Tonga, and 
deservedly so. Each Lali is named in the same 
manner as we give names to our bells. On feast 
days the Tongonian artists ring or sound on the Lali, 
peals that are not wanting in harmony. They rival 
each other in ability and skill, and are doubtless 
no less proud of their performances than our bell 
ringers in France." 

A similar instrument is used by the natives of 
Brazil, and on the South American continent as 
well as in Africa it has long been used to send sig- 
nals from one village to another. The Lali and 
some kinds of drum serve the natives as very useful 
forms of telegraph. 

1 6 BELLS 

Figure 4 shows a large wooden bell of strange 
shape, from Africa. The lump on the side is evi- 
dently the place where it is to be struck in order to 
bring out the best tone. Bells of this kind are used 
to call the people together for feasts and religious 
meetings, in the same manner that our modern bells 
call the people together. 

The Chinese have used various forms of wooden 



Ittropolitan Museum 

Fig. 4. A wooden hell from Africa 

bells for centuries. The fig-shaped temple bells 
made of teak and other hard woods are very reso- 
nant, as are also the long treelike wooden bells 
which are used in the monasteries. The weird 
chanting of the priests, and the monotonous beating 
on these wooden bells at intervals throughout the 
night, are striking features of the environment to 
Western travelers who may be trying to sleep in 
the vicinity. 

Miller collection 


The bamboo which grows in southern Asia and 
in the islands of the Pacific is very easily made into 
bells. The bamboo tubes are hollow, very hard and 
resonant, and a joint of bamboo 
requires only a clapper or a mallet in 
order to become a bell. If it is struck 
on the outside with a mallet, the sound 
may be heard at a great distance. 
Often a Malay, traveling at night, Fic^'sTATtone 
carries one of these bamboo bells, song 

which he strikes when he is uncertain as to the 
way, and the people in the nearest village reply. 
Bells of this kind are used by guards on some of the 
Pacific islands. Each sentinel is obliged to strike 
his bell every hour through the night, the next 
watcher taking up the signal, and so on around the 

Probably the first ringing sound produced by a 
primitive man (as we think of the word "ringing") 
was made when he suspended a piece of sonorous 
stone by a thong or cord of some kind, and struck 
it with a stick or with another stone. These stone 
gongs (see Fig. 5) doubtless led primitive peoples 
to experiment with the sound of various metals. 
The first experiences with metal must have revealed 
to the savage its superior resonance over wood and 
stone, and stimulated him to shape it into forms 
that would ring. Little bells were made of metal 
in the exact shape of nuts, with bits of metal or 
pebbles on the inside to make the jingling sound. 


Thus when gong material and rattle design were 
united, the first metal bells came into existence. 

Bells of this form are very common among sav- 
ages of all countries, and they are put to all kinds of 
uses. They are made of gold, silver, copper, tin, 
and every other kind of metal which can be worked 
into a nut shape. We use this type of bell in sleigh 
bells and other bells of the 
''jingling " kind. Figure 6 
shows a ceremonial rattle from 
Africa, made of many small 
metal bells. 

When this point had been 
reached in the working of 
metal, the field was then open 
to the imagination of the 
blacksmith (for it is he who 
makes bells among primitive 
peoples). Bells of various 
shapes and sizes have resulted, 
all the way from small, concave 
pieces of iron up to our own 
idea of what a bell should be. 
Primitive people have made 
various uses of bells. Among 
certain tribes of central Africa 
a rude iron bell is the scepter 
monial rattle of royalty. The same kind of 

sound which, with us, locates the cows or sheep, 
in Africa announces the coming of the king, who 

Metropolitan Museum 

Fig. 6. African cere- 



uses this bell only when he goes on visits of state 
or business of importance. Figure 7 shows an iron 
double bell which is carried before princes in the 
Congo region. 

Other tribes carry 
clumsy iron ''magic 
bells," which are always 
a sign of the priest. 
With these bells the 
priests go in procession 
from the villages, and 
firmly believe they will 
find treasure on their 

The ''medicine man" 
wears an iron bell sus- 
pended by an iron chain. 
In some places in Africa ^^' ^' 
the medicine man brings a small bell in his hand, 
and rings it from time to time. He begins his treat- 
ment by singing to the patient, who sits before him 
on the ground. He sings ' ' Dabre-dabre " several 
times in very solemn tones, and the patient answers 

Some savages wear small bells on their garments. 
For instance, the natives of New Guinea make bells 
out of shells and fasten into each bell a pig's tooth 
for a clapper, and these are used by the natives to 
decorate their scanty attire. The dress of the Naga 

iRichard Wallaschek, in Primitive Music, London, 1893. 

Metropolitan Museum 

African double hell 


women of north Burma, which is only a short petti- 
coat, is ornamented with bells, beads, and shells. 
On the west coast of Africa the grown girls of Benin 
city wear an apron consisting entirely of small 
brass bells. 

The Maoris in New Zealand use a bell called 
Pahu for purposes of war. 

The hill tribes in southern India have a small 
cowbell which they worship as a god. It is the one 
which is worn by the bell-buffalo of each sacred 
herd. When this bell-buffalo dies her eldest daughter 
inherits her rank, just as modern kings and queens 
inherit their crowns and kingdoms. The holy bell 
is then worn by the new bell-buffalo for three days 
and nights in order that she may be thoroughly 
consecrated. It is then removed and never worn 
again in that cow's lifetime, but is lodged in the 
priest's house where all may worship it. However, no 
one except the priest may touch it or even look at it.^ 

In some pa.rts of Africa the natives have mimic 
representations of the gorilla, during which an iron 
bell is rung and a hoarse rattle mingles with the 
other sounds. 

The Bahama negro dances to the accompaniment 
of ringing bells, while various individuals in the 
crowd keep time by stamping their feet and slapping 
their hands against their legs. 

When the first Spanish explorers came to America 
they found that the Indians in Mexico used small 

iSee Chapter XXIX, "The Bells of India," pp. 332-40. 


bells tied to their rattles. A wand decorated with 
bells and rattles of deer hoofs is still used in cele- 
brations of the Zufii Indians. 

Some of the Indians in Peru dance in the street 
to the music of a pipe and tabor, while the time is 
marked by the ringing of small bells tied to the legs. 
The Morris dancers of Old England also had this 

The Indians of Ecuador worshiped idols shaped 
like lions and tigers; and when a chief was ill the 
natives rang bells and beat drums before these idols 
in order that the gods might be appeased and 
restore the health of their leader. 

In East India the Pegu unite twenty bells into 
one instrument, which is beaten with sticks, and, 
as one traveler writes, "they make no bad music." 
The Javanese bells on Banda Island, to the number 
of twelve, from a distance sounded to one traveler 
"like a string orchestra." 

Some of the African tribes who think that loud- 
ness is the greatest thing to be desired in music, 
beat their drums with immense energy, and at 
the same time they bang with sticks upon a row 
of brass kettles which hang on poles and form a 
kind of bell series. 

The ancient shepherds tied bells to their sheep, 
and thought that by the sound of them the sheep 
grew fat. 



The most ancient civilizations of which we have 
any record seem to have made use of metal bells. 
Their invention cannot be claimed by any one 
nation, but China is, perhaps, the oldest known 
country where the bell appears in history. Bells 
are said to have been known in China for more than 
forty-six centuries. But vsince the bells of China 
have also a place among those of modern peoples, 
the discussion of the ancient as well as of the modern 
bells will be given in Chapter XXV. 


It is certain that the ancient Assyrians made use 
of bells. They are seen on the headstalls of horses 


Fig. 8. Ancient Assyrian hells 

in Assyrian monuments, and were probably used to 
announce the coming of the horses. Sir Austen 


Henry Layard, in his excavations at Nimrud, found 
about eighty bronze bells that had been buried in 
a copper caldron. Drawings of four of these bells 
(now in the British Museum) are shown in figure 8. 


Fig. 9. Egyptian hell Fig. 10. Ancient Egyptian 

of 200 B.C. hand bells 

They are so corroded that it is not possible to tell 
how these bells sounded in the ancient Assyrian days. 


Bells have been found in Egyptian mummy cases. 
Those found in the tombs are of bronze, and some 
of them resemble the bells of the Assyrians. Imi- 
tations of bells may be seen in the ancient Egyptian 
necklaces made of gold and silver, and also carved 
of precious stones as pendants to gold necklaces. 

Figure 9 shows an Egyptian bell which was proba- 
bly made about 200 B.C. Historians tell us that the 
Egyptians hung bells on the necks of horses, oxen, 
and sheep; also that small bells were sometimes 
hung at their doors, and were used in the houses to 




awaken the family in the morning. (See Fig. lo 
for drawings of Egyptian hand bells found in ancient 

The sistrum (see Fig. ii) is a metal instrument, 
more properly called a jingle than a bell, which is 
always associated with Egyptian music. It is first 

found in the ancient wor- 
ship of Isis in Egypt, where 
it was called seshesh, and 
was used by the priestesses 
and "holy women," who 
were sometimes of highest 
rank. The sistrum consists 
of a metal hoop with a 
^^ j^^^m^ handle. Through the hoop 

^8 ^ 11 are passed several rods of 

metal, and little bells, or 
sometimes jingling plates 
of metal, are suspended 
from the rods. The tink- 
ling sounds of the sistrum 
were considered indispens- 
able in the religious cere- 
monies of the Egyptians. 
What is more remarkable, 
the sistrum is still in use, being employed by the 
priests of a Christian sect in Abyssinia. The 
Copts, in upper Egypt, who are likewise Christians, 
shake a tinkling instrument of metal, called mara- 
outh, in their religious ceremonies, avowedly for the 

Metropolitan Museum 

Fig. II. Sistrum of the 
ancient Egyptians 


purpose of keeping off the Evil One. The sistrum 
seems to have a close relation to the sacred cere- 
monial bells. 


From several references in the Bible we know 
that the early Hebrews were familiar with bells, 
and used them. In Exodus xxviii, 34, the direc- 
tions are given for the robe of the ephod: "A golden 
bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pome- 
granate, upon the skirts of the robe round about." 
In Exodus xxxix, 25, the robe has been finished: 
"And they made bells of pure gold, and put the 
bells between the pomegranates upon the skirts 
of the robe round about, between the pomegranates; 
a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, 
upon the skirts of the robe round about, to minister 
in; as Jehovah commanded Moses." The tink- 
hng sound of these golden bells upon his robe 
announced the coming of the High Priest for the 
sacred ministrations. 

In Zachariah xiv, 20, ''In that day shall there be 
upon the bells of the horses ''Holy unto Jehovah," 
which implies a custom of having bells upon the 
horses, — probably fastened on the bridle, or upon 
the forehead of the horses, as they were used in 
Assyria, and as we find them at the present time in 
many countries. 

Josephus says that the ancients regarded bells 
as signifying thunder. In many cases they looked 
upon them as signals of victory and dominion. He 

2 6 BELLS 

also says that the golden roof of vSolomon's temple had 
bells fixed on it to keep birds from alighting thereon. 


Euripides says that the head gear of Greek war 
horses was adorned with small bells for the purpose 
of terrifying the foe and spurring the warriors to 
the fray. The Greek foot soldier carried bells 
attached to his shield or hidden in its hollow interior, 
probably for the same purpose. 

Bells were hung upon Porsena's stately tomb 
and upon the car which carried the body of Alex- 
ander the Great. Numerous bells have been found 
inside tombs, and were probably buried with the 
dead because of their supposed power to protect 
bodies from evil spirits. 

Augustus caused a bell to be hung before the 
temple of Jupiter, and probably before other temples 
also. Bells were used in the religious rites of the 
priest of Cybele in Athens; and at the moment of 
the death of an Athenian, brass kettles and bells 
were rung in order to scare away the furies. In 
Sparta, when a king died women went through the 
streets striking a bell, and this, says Herodotus, 
was the signal that from each household a man and 
a woman should put on mourning. 

Bells preceded funeral processions, were hung on 
triumphal cars, and summoned guests, as in later 
days, to feasts. Pliny, who died about 79 a.d., 
says that in the market place at Athens the fish 


sales were announced by the ringing of small bells. 
Figure 12 represents an ancient Greek bell that has 
been preserved since the 4th century b.c. 

A silver bell was the prize run for at races, and the 
familiar expression ' ' bearing away the 
bell" has its origin in this custom. 
The silver cup which is given in 
modem times as a prize in races and 
games of skill is only the ancient bell /7/ P LA< 

inverted and used as a drinking vessel, /k^ g f Q 

malefactors on their way to execu- (^^ \ r^*^ 
tion, ''lest innocent persons," says British Museum 

the historian, ''should be defiled by ^oflL%th^ZlL^rf 
touching them," and probably also ^•^^ 

to draw the gaze of the people upon the criminal 
to increase his punishment and the value of his 
example to the public. 

It is said that from this Greek custom the Romans 
derived their habit of hanging a bell upon the chariot 
of the emperor that he, in the height of his pros- 
perity and power, "might be admonished against 
pride and be mindful of human misery." 

Both the Greeks and the Romans hung bells 
about the necks of horses, dogs, and sheep. In 
one place in Rome Bacchus is represented as riding 
upon an ass to whose neck a bell is attached, and 
Pan also is pictured in similar manner. There are 
many representations of elephants wearing bells, 
either for superstitious or protective reasons. 


The Romans ''belled" their flocks in order that 
wild beasts might be scared away by the sound. 
In the rural laws of Justinian it is enacted that 
*'if anyone take away the bell from an ox or 
sheep, let him, being convicted, be scourged as a 
thief, and if the animal be lost thereby, let him pay 
the loss." 

Several historians mention the custom of testing 
the spirit of horses by seeing whether they were 
frightened by the sound of bells. The custom of 
training horses to these sounds gave rise to the 
habit of speaking of an untrained person as ''one 
not used to the noise of the bell." 

In Rome the bathing hour was announced by a 
bell, as were other times of the day, there being no 
clocks. The wealthier Romans used them in domes- 
tic life to assemble their families. 

In the garrison the Roman sentry wore a set of 
bells on his breastplate, so that the centurion might 
know from the sound that the sentry was faithful 
to his duty. The centurion's bell was used in the 
camp in two ways. "In one custom, a watchman, 
or patrol, made the rounds of the camp, ringing a 
bell, and the sentries replied to him by shouting, 
or in some other way. If they did not reply, he 
suspected that they were asleep, and investigated 
the matter. The second custom was for a bell to 
be sent around the circuit of the camp, each patrol- 
man carrying it over his beat and delivering it to 
the next patrol until it made the rounds and came 


back to the commander. If any patrolman, through 
sleepiness or from absence from his beat, failed to 
appear to take the bell from his neighbor, the bell 
was sent back again in the same fashion to the 
commander, who at once inquired into the reason 
for the patrolman's failure to appear."^ 

Bells played a very important part in the later 
warfare of both Greece and Rome. The ambitious 
young soldier proved his mettle by performing the 
trying duties of a patrolman, pacing the ramparts 
and rousing the guards with the hand bell which 
was passed from patrol to patrol. This practice 
once nearly caused the loss of a fortress; for, as 
Thucydides tells us in his History of the Pelopon- 
nesian War, during the siege of Potidaea, in Mace- 
donia, the Lacedemonian general, hearing by the 
sound of the bell that the sentry had passed a cer- 
tain spot, raised his scaling ladders there, and was 
driven back only with great difficulty. 

A still more remarkable instance of the use of 
bells for military purposes is related by Plutarch 
in his life of Brutus, which may be thus trans- 
lated : 

"As a river ran close to the town (Xanthus, in 
Lycia), several attempted to escape by swimming 
and diving; but they were prevented by nets let 
down for that purpose which had little bells at the 
top to give notice when anyone was taken." 

lA. S. Pease, in "Notes on Uses of Bells among the Greeks and 
Romans," in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. 



''The Roman infant played with bells as his toy, 
and the same sound preceded him to the funeral 

The Romans also employed bells of various tones 
arranged in some order for the playing of tunes. 

Fig. 13. Roman crotal {rattle) hells found in Ireland 

Among the Etruscan antiquities an instrument has 
been discovered which is constructed of a number 
of bronze vessels placed in a row on a metal rod. 
Likewise, numerous bells, varying in size and tone, 
have been found in Etruscan tombs. 

Figure 13 shows three types of bells found in 
Ireland, which were probably brought there by the 
Romans. They may have been used in the ancient 
war dances, or by the Roman pagan priests. 

The use of bells continued in Rome, and increased 
as Christian usage brought them more and more into 
play. The Greeks, however, were compelled to 

iBenjamin Lomax, in Bells and Bell Ringers, London, 1879. 



give them up when the TurkvS took Constantinople 
(in 1453) and prohibited their use. 


The Turks forbade the ringing of 
bells lest the sound should disturb 
the repose of souls which, they sup- 
posed, wander in the air; they also 
regarded bells as the symbols of un- 
faithfulness. It is quite possible that 
the Turks prohibited the use of bells 
for reasons that were as much polit- 
ical as religious, as the ringing of 
bells might serve as a signal in case 
of rebellion. So the lack of bells in 
the churches of the Greeks was not 
from principle, but from compulsion. 

After the edict forbidding the use of bells, the 
newly conquered Christians substituted for them 
metal or wooden plates to be struck with 
a hammer. Such plates are seen today 
in some Greek churches. The voice of the 
muezzin often calls the Turkish people to 
prayers, and the clapping of hands is the 
signal used for calling attendants. 

In spite of their objections to the use of 
bells, the Mohammedans look forward to 
hearing bells in Paradise, shaking on the 
*' golden shafted trees of Eden." In "Paradise and 
the Peri," Thomas Moore refers to this hope: 

Fig. 14 

Ancient Roman 

hand bell 

Fig. 15 

Roman hell 

of the ist 




And she already hears the trees 

Of Eden with their crystal bells 
Ringing in that ambrosial breeze 

That from the Throne of Alia swells. 

The ancient civilizations of 
North and South America seem 
to have employed metal bells 
for various purposes. Unlike 
the Chinese, the Incas of Peru 
and the ancient civilizations of 
Central America and Mexico 
have not left records which 
give the use of their bells; but 
some very fine specimens have 
been found. Small gold bells 
have been excavated in Panama, 
and may be seen in the Museum 
of the American Indian in New 
York. In the same museum is 
a large collection of bronze bells 
which were found in a cave in 
the valley of the Chamelecon 
River in Central America. (Fig. 
1 6 gives drawings of three of 
these bells.) 

Figure 17 (p. 33) illustrates a 
copper bell which was found in 
a tomb of ancient Peru. It was 
doubtless used in the religious 
services of the Incas, ages ago. 

Fig. 16. Ancient bronze 
hells of Cefitral America 



Figure 1 8 shows a cluster of yotl bells (now in the 
British Museum) from the ancient civilization of 
Mexico. Such yotl are found in the picture writings 

Fig. 17. Ancient copper 
bell from Peru 

Fig. 18. Ancient yotl bells 
from Mexico 

that show the various objects which the Aztecs 
used to pay as tribute to their sovereigns. The 
Aztecs and Incas also made bells of clay. 



No church bells called the first Christians of 
Europe together for their services, for they could 
meet only by stealth. Very soon after the death 
of Christ the Christian church was organized in 
Italy. The Romans in authority soon became so 
bitterly opposed to this religion that they sought 
to kill all Christians, and for a time the only way 
the followers of the new faith could come together 
was to meet in secret caves under the ground. 
Even today one may go through the dark tunnels 
into these caves or ''catacombs," and see the walls 
black with the smoke of the torches which the early 
Christians used, nearly two thousand years ago, 
to light these caves when they held their meetings. 

When more and more of the Romans became 
Christians, and finally the Emperor Constantine 
himself adopted the faith, there was no longer need 
for secrecy, for Christians were allowed to meet 
openly, in buildings above the ground. This was 
in the early 4th century. 

For a long time the Romans had used bells to 
remind the citizens that the public baths were ready, 
so it seemed natural that bells should now be used to 
summon them to church. At first they probably 
used the same hand bells that had announced the 



bathing hour; and probably the bell ringers ran 
about the streets in the same way, ringing the bell 
on every street to let the people know it was time 
to come together for worship, just as the "town 
crier" in our own country, before the days of the 
newspaper, distributed information and called the 
people to meetings. Sometimes, probably, they 
used trumpets also for this purpose, as was the 
custom in Egypt and the countries of the East. 

About the year 400, in the city of Campania, 
Italy, the bishop of Nola (whose name was Paulinus) 
conceived the idea of having one large bell fastened 
on top of the meetinghouse so that all the people 
might hear it, instead of having a bell ringer go 
about the streets. One writer says that Paulinus 
suspended above the roof of the church a large brass 
kettle, which was struck with a hammer to notify 
the people when prayers were supposed to begin. 
The records are so meager that no one knows exactly 
how it happened. Some writers claim that Pope 
Sabinianus was the first to use church bells, in the 
year 604, and that he had them rung at different 
hours of the day so the people could keep up with 
the times which had been set for them to pray. 
Paulinus, however, is the one whom the modem 
Italians honor. The feast of St. Paulinus is cele- 
brated on July 25 th of every year, and in many 
cities of Italy small clay bells, costing not more 
than a penny, are sold in great numbers to the poor 
people on that day. 



Fig. 19. French church 
hell of the yth century 

We do know, however, that 
when Clotaire, the king of the 
Franks, besieged the city of Sens 
in Burgundy in 610, his army was 
frightened away by the ring- 
ing of the bells in St. Stephen's 
Church there; so it seems that 
church bells were not very com- 
mon at that time, especially with 
the French. (Figs. 19 and 20.) 

About 680, says Bede, an Eng- 
lish historian of the 7 th century, 
church bells were introduced 
from Italy into England. Bells 
were carried by the missionaries 
into the British Isles, and those 
good saints, Patrick and Cuth- 
bert, always announced their 
coming by the sound of the bell, 
just as the town criers did many 
centuries later. Bells came with 
Christianity into Great Britain, 
and they have been very closely 
identified with church service 
ever since, — more than any 
other musical instrument. (Fig. 
21 shows an old English church 
bell of the earliest type.) 
It must have been in the 8th century that Tur- 
ketul, abbot of Croyland, hung the first peal of bells 

Fig, 20. German hell 
of the 7th century 



in an English belfry. He first presented to the 
abbey a large bell called ' ' Guthlac, ' ' and afterwards 
added six others named Pega, Bega, Betteline, 
Bartholomew, Tatwin, and 
Turketul. Gifts of bells to the 
churches and monasteries be- 
came very common about this 

It is recorded that "a cer- 
tain English nobleman named 
Litholf , who resided in a wood- 
land part of the neighborhood, 
gave two large bells to the 
tower of St. Albans. Having 
a good stock of vsheep and 
goats, he sold many of them 
and bought a bell, of which, 
when he heard the new sound suspended in the 
tower, he jocosely said, 'Hark, how sweetly my 
goats and my sheep bleat!' His wife procured 
another from the same place, and the two together 
produced most sweet harmony, which when the 
lady heard, she said, 'I do not think this union is 
wanting in Divine favor, which united me to my 
husband in the bond of matrimony and mutual 
affection.' " 

During the century that followed, a great many 
bells were made for the churches of England 
and France and other European countries. They 
increased in size, and were given special places in the 

Fig. 21. Old English 
church bell 



Fig. 22. Church hell 
of the Qth century 

religious services. (Fig. 22 shows a bell of the 9th 
century.) The Saxon king Egbert gave orders that 
all priests should ring the bells of 
their churches at appointed hours. 
In 816 the bells were ordered to 
ring upon the death of a bishop. 
A little later, Alfred the Great 
ordered the church bell to ring 
every evening at eight o'clock as 
a reminder that it was time for 
everyone to put out the fire and 
go to bed. This was known as 
the ''Curfew bell" (see p. 103). 
As time went on, more bell-ringing orders were 
given, until the bell came to be one of the most 
important parts of the church. 

For a long time the bells were made in the monas- 
teries, and it was the priest's office to ring them. 

In a life of Charlemagne it is stated that in the 
Abbey of St. Gall a bell maker named Tancho made 
a bell the tone of which Charlemagne liked very 
much. Tancho said to him, "My Lord Emperor, 
command a great quantity of copper to be brought 
to me which I will purify by fire; and let me have 
silver instead of tin,^ about a hundred pounds, and 
I will cast for you such a bell that the others in 
comparison with it shall be mute." Charlemagne 
ordered the required amount of copper and silver 
to be sent to the bell maker. Now Tancho, being 

iCopper and tin were the metals used by the first bell founders. 


a great knave, put all the silver aside for his own use, 
thinking no one would know the difference, and 
made the bell of copper and tin. When the bell 
was finished the emperor ordered it to be hung and 
the clapper attached. The writer relates that ''that 
was soon done, and then the warden of the church, 
the attendants, and even the boys of the place, tried, 
one after the other, to make the bell sound. But 
all was in vain ; and so at last the knavish maker of 
the bell came up, seized the rope and pulled at the 
bell. When lo! and behold! Down from on high 
came the brazen mass ; fell on the very head of the 
cheating bell founder; killed him on the spot; and 
passed through his carcass, and crashed to the 
ground. . . . When the aforementioned weight 
of silver was found, Charlemagne ordered it to be 
distributed among the poorest servants of the 

In the loth century it was decreed that any Saxon 
churl (peasant) might become a thane (a freeman of 
higher rank; nobleman) if he were rich enough to 
own about five hundred acres of land, and had on 
his estate a church with a bell tower. Of course 
this encouraged the building of churches and the 
making of church bells, and they became a neces- 
sary adjunct to every church building. A canon 
of the Church of England especially directs that 
** parishes must furnish bells and bell ropes." More 
and more the bell came to hold a place of honor and 
distinction. A peal of bells was the fitting present 


for a king to bestow upon the people of a deserving 
town; to deprive a town of its bells was the worst 
of punishments. Henry V took away the bell from 
the city of Calais and gave it to the city of Mon- 
mouth. According to Scott, the town of Dunkeld 
became so corrupt that it sold its bell for whisky, 
and drank the proceeds. 

O what a toun, what a terrible toun, 
What a terrible toun was the toun of Dunkel ; 
They 've hangit the minister, drooned the precentor, 
Dung down the steeple, and drucken the bell. 



When St. Patrick came from Gaul to Ireland about 
the year 440 he brought with him a group of skilled 
workmen and a number of bishops. Among the 
workmen were metal smiths, bell makers, and bra- 
ziers. He founded monasteries, placed the bishops 
to preside over them, and set the smiths to making 
bells for the monasteries. He especially designated 
that "the smiths should make bells, and the bra- 
ziers should make the patens, and the ministers the 
altar chalices." 

The bells which these smiths made were not 
cast, as our modern church bells are, but were made 
of thin plates of beaten metal, bent into a four- 
sided shape, riveted along the sides, and with a 
handle at the top. The best ones were dipped in 
a solution of molten bronze which filled up all open- 
ings and coated the bell, making it more solid and 

These early bells show indications that they were 
rung by being struck like a gong with a hammer 
or a small mallet, and that the clapper was added 
at a later period. When the clapper was once 
tried it proved more convenient, as it left one hand 
free to the ringer, and it is possible that clappers 
were then added to most of the old bells. However, 



some of the larger bells suspended in church towers 
in various European cities, until quite recent times, 
were rung by being struck like a gong. 

The bells used by the early teachers of Christi- 
anity were held in such veneration that they were 
looked upon as sacred, and preserved with the 
greatest care, together with the Bibles and walking 
staffs of the saints. The Irish have always greatly 
revered their sacred relics, and preserved them so 
carefully that many of these bells have been handed 
down for over a thousand years. There are said to 
be fifty or sixty of them now in existence. It was 
the custom to place the sacred bells or other relics 
in the guardianship of some special family selected 
for that purpose, and a generous grant of land was 
allowed to go with the trust for the support of the 
family. In case of invasion, or danger from fire, 
the first care of the relic keeper was to see that the 
sacred object was safe. The sacred bells of St. 
Patrick, and many other relics and manuscripts, 
have been preserved in this way. Had it not been 
for this custom of the Irish we should probably 
know very little today of the first Christian bells. 

There are several bells still preserved as having 
once belonged to St. Patrick. One of them is 
broken, and is called ''The Broken Bell of B rigid." 
It is said that St. Patrick had this bell in his hands 
when he had his last encounter with the demons of 
the North. When he found that the violent ringing 
of the bell was not sufficient to rout the enemy, he 



flung the bell with all his might into the thickest of 
their ranks, and frightened the enemy so that they 
fled terrified into the sea, and did not molest the 
island again, as the story goes, 
for seven years, seven months, 
and seven days! 

The ''Black Bell" of St. Patrick 
(see Fig. 23) is considered by 
many to be the oldest bell in Ire- 
land. It certainly shows signs of 
wear and tear. Formerly it be- 
longed to a family in Headford, 
and the people of that locality 
believed that this bell was a 
present from an angel to St. 
Patrick, and was originally of 
pure silver. Its present black 
and corroded condition is caused, they say, by its 
contact with the demons when the saint was expel- 
ling them from the country. For a long time this 
bell was brought every year, on Garland Sunday, 
to a little oratory on Croagh Patrick, and while 
here the pious pilgrim for a penny was allowed to 
kiss it. If he had been suffering with rheumatic 
pains, for twopence he might put it three times 
around his body. But finally times got so bad that 
the keeper of the bell sold it to help pay his pas- 
sage to America. 

Another bell of St. Patrick became the heirloom 
of the Abbey of Armagh, and was used in 946 by 


Fig. 23. The ''Black 
Beir' of St. Patrick 



the abbot to measure the tribute paid to him by 
a northern tribe. The bell-full of silver was given 
to him for his ''peace" as St. Patrick's successor. 
The most famous one of St. Patrick's bells is the 
one known as the "Bell of St. 
Patrick's Will" (see Fig. 24). 
It is made of two plates of 
sheet iron bent over to meet, 
riveted, and then dipped in 
bronze; it is six inches high, 
five inches broad, and four 
inches deep. The clapper is 
apparently of a later date than 
the rest of the bell. This bell 
was mentioned in the annals 
of Ulster as early as 552, and 
it is believed to have been 
buried in St. Patrick's grave and taken from his 
tomb about that time. It possessed great magic 
power, according to the people of former days, 
and the breach of an oath upon it in 1044 was 
said to have been avenged by a raid in which a 
large number of prisoners and twelve hundred cows 
were carried away. Its sound is supposed, even yet, 
to scare away evil spirits, and all reptiles except 
the deaf adder. 

In the eleventh century this bell was considered 
worthy to be enshrined. It seems that from the 
6th century onward there were found, in the prin- 
cipal churches of Ireland, costly shrines made for 

Fig. 24. ''Bell of 
St. Patrick's Will" 



the preservation of their most sacred reUcs: the 
bells, the books, and the croziers of the early teachers 
of Christianity. So at some time between 1091 
and 1 105, the king of Ireland (Donnel O'Loughlin) 
had made, at his expense, a jeweled shrine worthy 
of the noble origin of the Bell of St. Patrick's Will. 
This shrine is covered with gold and silver filigree 
set with jewels in green, blue, dull red, and crystal 
(see Fig. 25). 

The family of O'Mellan were the hereditary keepers 
of this bell and shrine until 1441. At this time, it 
is recorded in the annals, 
on account of some mis- 
demeanor on O'Mellan's 
part the care of the bell 
was given to another 
family; it was later pur- 
chased by the Royal 
Irish Academy, and is 
in the Dublin Museum. 
This bell and its shrine are 
among the most famous 
objects in the country. 

All of the bells of this 
period are shaped like 
our ordinary cowbells, 
though when they were 
to be used for church 
bells they were made 

The Art Workers' Quarterly 

Fig. 25. Jeweled shrine of 
''Bell of St. Patrick's Will" 

much larger, even twelve or thirteen inches high. 


N one have been found in Ireland more than thirteen 
inches high. As a church bell, this type belongs 

especially to Ireland, for the 

English soon departed from 

this form. 

By the end of the ninth cen- 
\ tury bells were cast in bronze 

in the same form as the old 

: iron ones, which, however, did 

(\ '' ' not go out of use. One of the 

"'>*'- -- ' -l^f- ^^ ^^ earlv bronze bells of Ireland 

Fia26. ''Bronze Bell ^as been preserved, the 

of Cumascach" ''Bronze Bell of Cumascach," 

shown in figure 26. This bell is cast of bronze, 

without rivets; its handle and clapper are of iron; 

it is nearly a foot high and eight inches across the 

base. We know by its inscription, which means "a 

prayer for Cumascach, son of Ailill," that it must 

have been made about the year 900. (See p. 52.) 

It is recorded that "pilgrims in the remote ages 
of the Celtic church carried these bells with them, 
especially when visiting heathen lands, and left 
them behind as memorials of their Christianity." 
The Welsh, as well as the Irish, hold their bells in 
the highest veneration, and in former days took 
great pride in making them. Some of the church 
bells which date back to the seventh and eighth 
centuries are remarkable for beauty and workman- 
ship, as are also the shrines that have been made 
for their better preservation. 



Just as the people in other parts of the world have 
always given a religious meaning to the sound of 
metal, most of the early Christians came to think 
of the sound of bells as symbolic of the voice of 
God. Many of them believed that bells could 
perform miracles and cures, and that they even had 
the power of going from one place to another with- 
out human help. This belief continued in some 
degree for hundreds of years, and bell superstitions 
have not yet altogether disappeared. 

Early historians tell us of certain portable bells 
which all the people of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales 
looked upon as having miraculous power. They 
were even more afraid of swearing falsely by these 
bells than by the Bible itself. Even now one hears 
of the ''bell oath" among the peasants of southern 
Ireland, and the ''Golden Bell of St. ^enan" is still 
famous. This golden bell, kept in safety by the 
Munster family for generations, has been ver>^ useful. 
In cases of theft and the like, where the truth cannot 
be found out by ordinary means, the loan of this bell 
will be demanded, and the suspected persons required 
to put their hands upon it and swear their innocence. 
No one who is not truly innocent will dare do this, 
for fear of being exposed and punished by the bell. 



Once, writes Mr. Fielding, during the last century, 
a man who had stolen some linen was sent by his 
parish priest to fetch the bell for the oath. In an 
agony of guilt and terror he flung the bell over a high 
cliff into the sea, only to find, when he came to the 
priest's house, that the bell, mysteriously rescued, 
had arrived there before him, and was calmly 
awaiting the confession which he was now obliged 
to make. 

The bell of St. Oudoceus, a 5th-century bishop, 
was supposed to have the power to heal the sick. 
Its legend, according to one of the old writers, is 
as follows: *'St. Oudoceus, being thirsty after 
undergoing labor, and more accustomed to drink 
water than any other liquor, came to a fountain in 
the vale of Llandaff , not far from the church, that 
he might drink, where he found women washing 
butter, after the manner of the country ; and sending 
to them his messenger and disciples, they requested 
that they would accommodate them with a vessel 
that their pastor might drink therefrom; who, 
ironically, as mischievous girls, said, 'We have no 
other cups besides that which we hold in our hands, 
namely, the butter ' ; and the man of blessed memory 
taking it, formed a cup in the shape of a small bell, 
and he raised his hand so that he might drink 
therefrom, and he drank. And it remained in that 
form, that is, a golden one, so that it appeared to 
those who beheld it, to consist altogether of purest 
gold; which, by Divine power, is from this day 


reverently preserved in the church of Llandaff, in, 
memory of the holy man, and it is said that by 
touching it, health is given to the diseased." 

Many suffering pilgrims came to the church where 
it was preserved, in the hope of being healed. It 
had lost its clapper — being such an old bell — and 
made an excellent cup from which to drink; and 
no matter what one drank from this bell, it was 
supposed to have wonderful healing power, even 
though it were only pure water. 

In a small village in Wales there is preserved a 
bell which is said to have belonged to St. David, 
and it is endowed with great virtues. Once a man 
was confined in a castle near Warthremon, and his 
wife secretly sent this bell to him, in order that it 
might enable him to be set free. The keepers of 
the castle not only refused to let him go, but kept 
the bell and hung it on the wall. On that same 
night, so the story goes, by ** Divine vengeance the 
whole town, with the exception of the wall on which 
the bell hung, was consumed by fire." 

The Scottish people also preserved their sacred 
bells with superstitious reverence. There is said to 
be a very ancient bell in the chapel of St. Fillans, 
in Scotland, an oblong bell about a foot high, which 
was very highly respected in the olden days, and 
this bell had remarkable curative powers. It was 
usually kept on a gravestone in the churchyard, 
and used to cure mad people. The sufferer was 
first dipped in the saint's pool, and had various 


rites performed over him; then he had to remain 
in the chapel all night, bound with ropes. Next 
morning this bell was very solemnly set upon his 
head in order to complete the cure, and the patient's 
wits returned. It was believed that if this bell were 
stolen it would extricate itself out of the thief's 
hands, and return home, ringing all the way. For 
some years past it has been locked up to prevent its 
being used for superstitious purposes. 

The power to return home of its own accord was 
also attributed to a bell in Leinster. A chieftain 
of Wicklow got possession of it, and he was obliged 
to tie it with a strong cord to prevent its escaping 
to its home, at St. Fillans' church in Meath. 

The ability to prevent its being lifted was one of 
the miraculous powers of another bell of vSt. Fillans. 
It seems that some one who lived in a neighboring 
parish at one time stole this bell and ran away. In 
the course of his flight he sat down to rest on the 
top of a hill, where he might draw his breath, and 
laid the bell on a stone beside him. When he 
started to continue his journey, however, the bell 
would not leave the rock. Try as hard as he might, 
he could not move it. He was terribly frightened, 
and in the face of this magic he decided that the 
only thing to do was to go back and confess his 
theft. Fully resolved to restore the treasure if he 
could but get it loose from the rock, he made one 
more effort. The bell now came up quite easily, 
and was light enough while the thief carried it back 



to its home. This bell of St. Fillans was made 
after the fashion of most of the Celtic relics — iron 
riveted together and coated with bronze. 

There is a story about the sacred bell which is 
treasured in Kenan's Convent. St. Kenan was an 
Irish disciple of the Welsh abbott, St. Gildas. One 
night when St. Kenan was staying in St. Gildas' 
abbey, he dreamed that he heard 
a voice bidding him to depart and 
found a house of monks of his 
own, in an unnamed land to 
which a bell should guide him. 
The monks of St. Gildas had no 
bell which they were willing to 
give away, so the abbott himself 
made one out of a piece of old 
iron, and blessed it, and gave it 
to the parting guest. For a long, 
long time, as they traveled, the 
bell was silent, and St. Kenan 
and his companions knew that 
they must travel on until the bell should ring of 
its own accord, and thus let them know where to 
stop. Finally, in a Cornish valley, it sounded the 
long-hoped-for signal, and the party stopped here 
by the River Fal, and built Kenan's Convent, where 
the bell has been preserved and honored ever since. 

The "Black Bell of Drumragh" (see Fig. 27) is 
still in the possession of its hereditary keepers, the 
M'Enhill family. When a member of the keeper's 

Fig. 27. The "Black 
Bell of Drumragh'' 


family died, the oldest man in the family carried 
this bell before the coffin and rang it at intervals 
until the church was reached. It seems that this 
bell is especially thought of as a funeral bell, and 
this is the story of how it came into the M'Enhill 
family, as related by Mr. Milligan : ^ 

''Many centuries ago, before roads or bridges 
were made to the old Drumragh graveyard, two 
funerals were entering at the same time, one, a 
person called M'Enhill, and the other, Campbell. 
When the M'Enhill funeral was passing a certain 
spot, a bell began to ring in the ground; but when 
the other funeral passed that same spot, it ceased. 
After this, when any member of the M'Enhill family 
was being buried, and passed over this spot, the 
bell rang ; but it never rang when anyone else passed 
over, so the M'Enhills dug down and discovered 
the bell, and it has been in their family ever since." 

The ''Bell of Cumascach" (see Fig. 26) was also 
called the Blessed Bell of Armagh, and was supposed 
to have miraculous power to heal the sick. The 
Henning family were the hereditary keepers of 
the bell. It was an ancient custom to place it 
near any of that family who were dangerously ill. 
Mr. Bell, who was an eyewitness to one of the uses 
of this bell, writes: "I visited Mrs. Henning, the 
widow of Paul Henning, on her deathbed. She lay 
in a large, badly lighted apartment crowded with 
people. The bell, which had remained several days 

^In Ancient Ecclesiastical Bells in Ulster, 1902. 



near her head, seemed to be regarded by those who 
were present with much interest. The vapor of 
the heated chamber was so condensed on the cold 
metal of the bell, that occa- 
sionally small streams trickled 
down its sides. This 'heavy 
sweating ' of the bell, as it was 
termed, was regarded by 
everyone with peculiar horror, 
and deemed a certain prog- 
nostication of the death of 
the sick woman, who departed 
this life a few hours after I 
left the room. The agonized 
bell, I was told, had on many 
previous occasions given sim- 
ilar tokens as proofs of its 
sympathy of the approaching death of its guard- 

This bell was often borrowed from its keeper that 
it might be rung at funerals, and it was also used 
in administering the oath, in order to find out guilty 
persons. It was considered the most binding oath 
that could be taken, and many miraculous judg- 
ments were visited on those who violated oaths 
taken on this bell. 

St. Patrick is supposed to have given fifty con- 
secrated bells to the churches of Connaught. The 
"Bell of Blood" (see Fig. 28) is believed to be one 
of those bells. It was, like other sacred bells, used 


Fig. 28. St. Patrick's 
"Bell of Blood" 


in administering oaths and in recovering lost 
property, and was hired out on the following terms : 
*'The borrower, before it was committed to him, 
paid down a certain fee in silver: then he took an 
oath on the bell, that he would safely return it 
within a certain time, and that while in his posses- 
sion, it should never touch the ground, or pass out 
of human hands. In consequence it was customary 
for the person who borrowed it, when he required 
to be disengaged, to place it in the hands of a second 
person, and so on ; and when night came, the family 
used to sit up, or the neighbors to be collected as 
at a wake, so that when one was tired holding it, 
another might relieve him, and thus fulfill, until 
the period of its loan had expired, the terms of the 
oath, that it was never to pass out of the hands of 

It is said that Breslin, the keeper of the "Bell 
of Conall Cael," so far lost his reverence for the bell 
that he sold it for three young cows. The cows died 
the next day, and Breslin never prospered afterwards. 

The legend of a bell which once hung in the bell 
house of Aughagower, in the county of Mayo, is 
still preserved among the people of that vicinity. 
They say it was once buried for concealment in 
a bog near by, and that ''of a quiet evening its 
sound, like silver, could be heard across the waste." 

The Clog-Oir was a bell that was famous for its 
ability to recover stolen property. The common 

iRev. H. T. Ellacombe, in Church Bells of Devon, Exeter, 1872. 


people believed that if anyone was wicked enough 
to swear falsely upon it, the muscles of his mouth 
would contract at one side until the opening reached 
his ear. The truth of this was never tested, how- 
ever, because no one was ever known to swear 
falsely upon it, though it was very frequently 
in use. 

It is said that the last time it was used for this 
purpose was about the year 1834. "A farmer had 
his house broken into, and was robbed of twenty 
pounds. He applied for the bell, as he suspected 
the robbery to have been committed by persons 
in his neighborhood. It was brought with much 
ceremony to his house ; and after mass on the follow- 
ing Sunday was the time appointed for the whole 
parish to assemble, and 'clear themselves from sus- 
picion upon the bell.' On Saturday night preceding 
this ordeal, the farmer was frightened by a heavy 
crash at the window, which was broken in. He 
feared his days were numbered; but after waiting 
some time in great terror, all became quiet. On 
lighting a candle to see what had occurred, he found, 
to his great astonishment, that his twenty pounds — 
even the identical notes, tied with the same string — 
had been thrust in through the broken pane, and 
were on the floor ! Of course there was no occasion 
for using the bell on the following day. There- 
after, the keepers of the bell refused all applications 
made for its use, because of religious scruples on the 
subject, chiefly caused by the above incident." 



We do not hear so much of the "bell oath" in 
English bell lore. The sacred bells of the English 
were kept high upon the churches, where they could 
not easily be reached or carried about. And per- 
haps because they were kept so high up in the air, 
the English people of the Middle Ages thought their 
church bells had miraculous power over storms and 
evil spirits of the air.^ These larger bells of the 
English served the entire community at once, while 
the smaller, portable bells of the Irish served indi- 
viduals in a more personal way. 

Some of these legends seem childish, even to chil- 
dren of modern times; but it would be difficult to 
say how much their bells meant to these people in 
the hard lives they were forced to lead. 

The fact that bells came to them with Christi- 
anity, and were so soon invested with a deep religious 
meaning, together with the naturally weird qualities 
of bell sounds, must have done much to foster that 
rich Irish imagination which is still contributing 
so greatly to the literature of the world. 

iThis phase will be discussed in the chapter on "The Baptism of 
Bells," p. 84. 



The earliest Christian bells were made of pieces 
of metal riveted together into a four- sided shape. 
Figure 29 shows a very common pattern by which 
the sheet iron was cut. It was bent along the 
dotted lines, and when the sides were riveted, the 
result was a shape somewhat similar to our modem 
cowbells. Figure 30 shows three ways of fastening 
the clapper into place. In figure 32 is seen the 
row of rivets along the side of one of these ancient 

Sometimes copper and perhaps other metals were 
beaten into the desired form, and riveted. Figure 3 1 
shows a rounded form with rivets in the side. 

So long as these methods of bell making were 
followed, the bells, even church bells, were not very 
large. But when someone thought of melting metal 
and molding it into shape (as the ancient Chinese 
had done, centuries before), bells of much greater 
size and finer quality could be made. Thus there 
opened up a new and interesting field for European 
bell makers, and since then practically all church 
bells have been cast. This means that the melted 
metal is poured or cast into a mold to make it the 
desired shape, and left in the mold until it becomes 
cool and hard. 





r^ — ' \ 

1 o 1 , 

1 . 1 

1 ' ; 

1 1 

1 O 1 

1 1 



Fig. 29. Pattern for making bells of sheet iron 

Fig. 30. Early methods of attaching handle and clapper to hell 



The place where bells are 
cast is called a ''foundry," 
and the art of casting them, 
the "art of bell founding." 

The development of this 
art not only enabled the 
founders to make bells of 
enormous size and weight, 
but it gave them an oppor- 
tunity to mix metals by 
melting them together, until 
they learned by experiment 
what mixtures of metal 

would give ^ the best tone, p^^ ^^^ Seventh-century hell, 
"Bell metal" is a mixture of '^ith rounded form and rivets 

copper and tin, with four or 
five times as much copper as 
tin; and sometimes a little 
zinc and lead are also added. 
The bells in the time of 
the reign of Henry III had 
twice as much copper as tin ; 
in the Assyrian bronze bells 
shown on page 22, ten times 
as much copper as tin was 
used. But experience has 
proved that about four or 
five times as much copper as 
tin is the best combination 
to produce a good ringing 

Fig. 32. Early church 
bell, with rivets in side 


tone ; and this mixture is made to vary according to 
the kind of tone desired. If too much tin is used, 
the metal will be too brittle, and will crack. 

Although there are many stories of silver and gold 
being added to bell metal "to sweeten the tone," 
the value of such additions is only a myth. Bells 
have been made of silver, but they are not very 
resonant. Steel also has been used for the casting 
of bells, but it is not very satisfactory. Bells have 
been cast of glass, with a considerable thickness of 
the material, and these give a very fine sound, but 
they are too brittle to be practicable. 

Since the bells of early Christianity were so closely 
associated with the church, and were looked upon 
as being sacred, it was natural that the first bell 
foundries should be set up in the religious houses. 
In some instances the bells were actually cast in 
the church. The casting was done with elaborate 
ceremonials, the priests, abbots, and often the 
bishops being the master founders. One of the 
ceremonies was that of blessing the furnace in which 
the metal was melted, probably to insure that the 
metals would mix well and produce a good ringing 
tone. The brethren stood around the furnace, 
arranged in processional order, and chanted the 
Psalm containing these verses: 

"Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with 
psaltery and harp. 
Praise Him with timbrel and dance: praise Him with 
stringed instruments and pipe. 


Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with high 

sounding cymbals. 
Let everything that hath breath praise Jehovah." 

Then followed certain prayers, after which the 
molten metal was blessed, and God was asked to 
infuse into it His grace and overshadow it with 
His power, for the honor of the saint to whom 
the bell was to be dedicated, and whose name it 
was to bear.i 

The early bell founders were proud of their work, 
and some of them became very famous. They 
stamped on the bells either their names or symbols 
which stood for them. Usually the date was added, 
and often a sentence or verse which ascribed a per- 
sonality to the bell. 

In the north aisle of the nave of York Cathedral 
is a stained-glass window, called the ''bell founder's 
window," which shows something of the bell-making 
process in those early days. This window was given 
to the cathedral by the bell founder Richard Tunnoc, 
who died in 1330. It is impossible to show the 
wonderful colors of the glass, but the outlines are 
shown in figure 33 (p. 63). The design on the left 
represents the method of forming the core, or inner 
mold, for the bell. One man turns a handle like a 
grindstone, while another, with a long, crooked 
tool, vShapes the clay after the manner of the potter 
at his wheel. There are two bells on the floor. 

ijohn R. Fryar, in "The Functions of Church Bells in Old England," 
in American Ecclesiastical Review, Philadelphia, 19 10. 


The figures on the right are working with a furnace 
fanned by a bellows, and are evidently running the 
molten metal. A boy stands on the bellows, and, 
steadying himself by the rod above, jumps up and 
down on the bellows, to force the draft into the 
furnace and thus keep the metal heated. The 
entire window is ornamented with bells. 

The practice of bell founding gradually passed 
into the hands of workers who cast the bells outside 
of the monasteries. In England some of the early 
founders traveled about the country and set up 
temporary foundries to cast bells wherever they were 
wanted, for the transportation of a large bell was 
a difficult matter in those days.^ The art gradually 
spread over England, Belgium, and Holland, and 
little by little the principles of shape and metal 
mixture for the most beautiful and best toned bells 
were gradually worked out. 

The early art of bell founding left a reminder in 
the names of families who took their surnames from 
their occupations. In reading through early English 
documents one finds the names "Robert Belgetter, 
1333; Thomas Belgetter; Daniel Bellfounder, 1443," 
which doubtless applied to men in the bell-founding 
profession. 2 

A cast bell is nothing more than a layer of metal 
which has been run into a space between two molds : 

iTraveling bell founders were known as late as the 19th century, 
when railroads made this unnecessary. 

2lt is probable that the modern surname "Bell" resulted, in some 
cases, from a shortening of those professional names. 

'mm^mi^mm B^iiEiai 


^^mm^mm. ^ <i 




Fig. 34. Making the "core" 

an inner mold called the core, and an outer mold 
called the cope. 

This is one of the early methods of bell founding : 
A block of wood was first cut the exact shape and 
size to fill up the inside of the bell that was desired. 
This was the core. The core was then covered with 
wax, and the layer of wax was just as thick as the 
bell was to be. This was the wax model. Outside 
the model came the cope, made of clay, or hard 
earth, which would hold its shape when dry. When 
the earth was quite dry, wax was heated until 
it melted, and the melted wax was allowed to run 
out. The cavity, which was the shape of the wax 
model, was then filled with molten metal from the 
furnace, and allowed to cool. If a design of letters 


or ornament on the outside of the bell was desired, 
the design was made of strips of wax laid upon the 
wax model before the earthen cope was put on, and 
the same design appeared on the metal bell. 

A modern bell maker would think this method 
very old-fashioned, indeed ; but in the early days of 
bell founding it was considered very wonderful. 

A later method made it possible to produce better 
and even larger bells, and the following is the 
method by which most of the large bells now hanging 
in Europe were made. 

Instead of the core being made of a block of wood, 
as in the previous method, a framework of bricks 
was built, hollow inside, so a fire could be made 
under it (see Fig. 34). Covering this brick frame- 
work came a layer of clay which could be shaped 
to the desired form for the inside of the bell. This 
entire core was made to revolve on a spindle, in 
the same way a lump of clay revolves on a potter's 
wheel, and a crook, shaped something like 
the cut on the right and attached to the 
spindle, scraped off the surface of the clay, 
leaving it smooth and the exact shape de- 
sired for the inside. (See clay core in Fig. 34.) 

When the core was dry it was smeared with grease ; 
then upon this greased core the "false bell" or 
model was made of plastic clay. Another crook — 
a larger one — was fastened into the top of the 
spindle, which, as it whirled around, made the 
outside of the clay bell smooth. Many metal bells 



show lines running around the bell. These lines 

were caused by the revolving crook which shaped 

the clay model. 

The inscriptions and ornaments were then molded 

in wax upon the clay bell. When the model was 
quite dry it was smeared with 
grease, to keep the next layer 
from sticking to it. Then fine 
clay was covered over this very 
carefully, to fill up the tiny 
holes in the design. Then 
came coarse clay, until the 
solid cope was formed. 

A fire was made under the 
core, and everything baked 
hard. The layers of grease 
and the wax inscriptions were 
steamed out, leaving a little 
space between the model and 
the clay forms above and 
beneath it. This made the 
model loose enough to come 

Meneely Bell Foundry QUt Casily, Icavln^ itS CXaCt 

Fig. 35. Modern perforated . '' ° 

molding case shape m the now hollow space 

between the core and the cope. The molten metal 
was then poured into the cavity. 

Figure 3 5 shows the form of a modem perforated 
molding case made by the Meneely Bell Company, 
in Troy, New York. They describe its use in the 
quotation on the following page. 



"Porous loam and other substances compose the 
material which is put upon the cases in varying 
thickness, to which the necessary form and finish 
are given by the use of sweep patterns, shaped in 
such a manner as to secure, by their revolution about 
a common center, surfaces corresponding to the 
outer and inner portions of the intended bell. As 
bell metal shrinks in cooling, the inner case, before 
the loam is placed upon it, is wrapped about 
with straw rope, the charring of which, by the 
heat of the metal in pouring, gives room for the 
necessary contraction, and prevents the straining 
of the metal. 

''The molds are closed 
upon each other in a man- 
ner securing exact regu- 
larity of thickness in the 
space within. The metal 
is poured in at the head. 
The gases generated in 
the metal, and which, if 
allowed to remain in the 
molds, would produce an 
explosion, or at least 
cause a porous casting, 
find vent in the perfo- 

''These cases, also, to the advantage of the 
bell, allow it to cool, after casting, in such a manner 
as to secure precise uniformity throughout." 

Children's Magazine 

Fig. 36. Section of bell mold. 
Pouring metal into the mold 


The actual casting of a bell, or the pouring of the 
metal, takes only a few minutes, but the preparation 
for it often requires many weeks of careful labor. 
In the casting of a small bell the bell metal may be 
poured as is shown in figure 36, but large bells 
are cast in deep pits. Turn to pages 171 and 175 
for pictures of the casting and recasting of one of 
England's famous bells, ''Big Ben." 

If the mold is damp, or not of the proper temper- 
ature, or if the metal is poured before it is hot 
enough, or if gases collect and cannot escape, the 
bell may be porous and easily cracked. In the 
case of a very large bell, it may require a week or 
more for it to cool before it can be removed from 
the pit. A bell weighing a ton would be too hot 
to touch for two or three days, but one weighing 
only five hundred pounds could be dug out of the 
pit the following day. When a bell cracks it may 
be broken up and melted and cast again. Hundreds 
of old bells now hanging in the bell towers have been 
cast more than once, and many of them several times. 

When an old bell is recast it is customary to take 
a ''rubbing" of the inscription and reproduce it on 
the new bell. 

The typical church bell has a clapper of metal 
which swings from the upper inside of the bell. 
The clapper must be made with its weight properly 
adjusted to the size of the bell. If it is too light, it 
will not draw the proper tone of the bell ; if too heavy, 
it will in time crack or otherwise injure the bell. 


The different parts of a bell are shown in figure 37, 
and are distinguished as follows: the bottom edge 
is called the ''mouth" of the bell; just above this 
is the thick rim, or ' ' sound bow, ' ' where the clapper 
strikes; above that is the concave ''waist"; above 
that is the "shoulder," where the inscription is 




f""^ l)\ '""^'^'^^ sound how 

N. U j) j^ mouth 

FiG. 37. An ancient hell, showing names of parts 

usually placed. The part above the angle of the 
shoulder is known as the ' ' crown," and to the highest 
part of the crown the loops or "cannons" are fixed. 
The bell is suspended by means of the cannons.^ 

At first each church had only one bell. Later, 
other bells were added to distinguish between the 
different services, and each bell had a different tone 
from the others. In some churches three different 
bells sounded the first three notes of the scale; and 
where -^yq bells were needed, they were tuned, as 

iMany modern bells, however, are suspended by other means. 


nearly as was possible, to the first five notes of the 
major scale. 

Then began the art of tuning bells. This involved 
problems, for, as one can imagine, it was no simple 
matter to cast a bell and have it come out of the 
mold with exactly the desired tone when it was 

Bell makers very early discovered that of two 
bells which appeared to be of the same size on the 
outside, the thicker one had the higher tone. Also 
that the larger the bell, the lower the tone, if the 
thickness was the same. So they made large bells 
for low tones, and smaller ones for high tones. 

They found that a bell which sounded number 2 
of the scale weighed about one-eighth less than 
number i ; and that number 3 weighed about one- 
eighth less than number 2. So by weighing the 
amount of metal to go into each bell, they could 
regulate the tones. When they used wax models 
they weighed the wax, and made cores of different 
sizes to correspond. 

The making of a good bell, however, is not so 
simple as it may seem. As the art of bell founding 
developed, it was found that a bell of given weight 
must also have a certain diameter and thickness in 
order to produce the best tone. For example, a 
bell which weighs two thousand pounds, according 
to one authority^ should be four feet in diameter 
at the mouth, and three and one-half inches thick 

lA. A. Johnston, "Clocks, Carillons and Bells," in Journal of the 
Society of Arts, London, 1901. 



at the sound bow; while a hundred-pound bell 

should be eighteen inches in diameter, and one and 

one-fourth inches thick. The heavier the bell, the 

thicker it must be; the 

lighter, the thinner. It 

should be thickest at the 

sound bow where it is 

struck, and taper upward 

to one-third of that 

thickness. If a bell were 

of uniform thickness 

throughout it would 

sound dull, without the 

desired tone quality or 

resonance. Figure 38 

shows a cross section of 

the metal's thickness in 

a well-shaped bell. 

When a bell comes out 
of the mold, if it does 

Fig. 38. Cross section of hell 
to show thickness of metal 

not have exactly the required tone its pitch can be 
changed a little by using a file or whetstone. If the 
tone is too low, it can be raised a little by grinding 
off the lower edge of the bell; if too high, it can be 
made a little thinner with a file, and the tone lowered. 
If a bell comes out of a mold exactly in tune, it is 
said to have a ''maiden peal." 

William G. Rice^ expresses the tuning of bells 
thus: "In broad terms the pitch, or note, of bells 

iln Carillons of Belgium and Holland, 19 14. 



is determined by diameter. Their timbre, or quality 
of sound, is affected by their general shape, the 
thickness of their various parts, together with the 
alloy of which they are made. Their volume, or 
possible loudness of tone, depends chiefly upon their 
size and weight. The pitch can be lowered by 

lengthening the bottom 
diameter, and raised by 
shortening such diam- 
eter. Small changes of 
diameter may be made 
by filing or turning off 
the inside at the bottom 
swell, thus lengthening 
the diameter or by cut- 
ting off a slight portion 
of the rim, thus shorten- 
ing the diameter." 

Bell makers have a 
revolving cutter which 
pares off very thin slices 
of the metal at the required place. A modern 
method of tuning bells is shown in figure 39. 

A peculiarity of bells is that they give off more 
than one sound when struck, and what we hear is 
really a combination of sounds. So in order to 
sound well, bells must not only be in tune with each 
other, but each bell must be in tune with itself. A 
perfect bell rings its main note when struck by the 
clapper at the bottom or sound bow; when struck 

Pig. 39. 

John Taylor & Co. 

Tuning a bell 


at a point one-eighth of a bell's height above this, 
the sound should be a third above the main tone; 
three-quarters of the way up, the tone should be a 
fifth above the main tone, and at the shoulder the 
tone should be an octave above. Thus the bell, 
when properly struck, gives a perfect chord. There 
is also what is called the "hum tone," which is an 
octave below the main tone. 

The making of a good bell is a gratifying invest- 
ment of time, and it gives good value for the money 
it costs. There are very few articles which are as 
good as new after being used for several centuries. 
But even if the bell becomes cracked, it is still worth 
two-thirds of its original value, for the chief cost is 
the metal in it, and that can be broken up, melted 
again, and recast. 

When one considers all the problems involved in 
producing a bell of good tone quality '4n tune with 
itself," regardless of any special pitch, and when 
to these problems are added the complications and 
cross-complications which are involved in making 
a series of bells to definite pitches in tune with each 
other, one cannot fail to realize that bell making 
is indeed a great and intricate art. 



As soon as bell makers learned to cast bells instead 
of hammering them into shape or riveting pieces of 
iron together, possibilities for decoration opened, 
for it was not a difficult matter to cast letters and 
ornamental designs on the bells. This was done 
by making these designs on the wax or clay models 
which gave the exact shape of the future bell, and 
when the model was removed and the molten metal 
poured into the cavity, it took the exact form of 
the model — shape, letters, and all. It was most 
natural that the maker of such an important thing 
as a bell should wish to inscribe something upon it. 

At first the inscriptions were in Latin, because 
the first bell foundries were in the monasteries (or 
closely connected with them) and were managed by 
the priests or monks, who were very learned in Latin. 
The church services at that time were in Latin, too. 
Some of the bells with Latin inscriptions, and dates 
of many centuries ago, have been preserved in the 
old churches. 

The people of the Middle Ages not only thought 
their church bells had miraculous power, and gave 
them Christian names, but they also personified them 
by letting the inscriptions read as if the bells were 
speaking. For instance, the Latin inscription on 



an old Belgian bell reads, when translated, "I was 
cast in the year of our Lord 1523." 

MovSt of the oldest bells which have been pre- 
served bear only the names of the saints to whom 
they are dedicated. Later a few praise expressions 
were added, and by the late sixteenth century such 
inscriptions appeared as Jubilate Deo Salvatori 
nostro, and Cantabo tuas Domini. 

Sometimes the inscription also states some of the 
uses of the bell. One inscription on an old English 
bell reads: Laudo Deum verum, plebem voco, con- 
jugo clerum; defunctos ploro, pestem fugo, festa 
decoro; funera plango, fulgura frango, Sabbata pango; 
excito lentos, dissipo ventos, paco cruentos. When 
translated it means: *'I praise the true God, I 
summon the people, I assemble the clergy; I mourn 
the dead, I put the plague to flight, I grace the 
feast; I wail at the funeral, I abate the lightning, 
I proclaim the Sabbath; I arouse the lazy, I scatter 
the winds, I soften the cruel." 

An old storm bell in Durham bears a Latin in- 
scription meaning, ' ' Do thou, Peter, when rung, calm 
the angry waves," suggesting something of the power 
which was attributed to church bells in those days. 

One of the bells in St. Mary's Church in Oxford 
has a long inscription in musical notation. Around 
the crown are the words : 

+ BE . YT . KNOWNE . TO . ALL . THAT . 


Lower down on the bell are two lines of music, one 
line going all the way around the bell, the other 
line only part of the way. The notes are of lozenge 
form, and are placed on a staff of five lines. The 
music is in madrigal style, and is neither chime music 
nor psalm tune. This inscription has long baffled 
the efforts of those who have tried to interpret it. 

A German bell of the Middle Ages bears the Latin 
legend which means: ''I am the voice of life: I 
call you: Come and pray." 

It seems that by the early seventeenth century 
bell makers began to use their own language for 
inscriptions. There is a bell in Lincoln, England, 
dated 1604, with these words: "I sweetly toiling 
men do call to taste on meats that feed the soule." 

From that time on, many inscriptions were in 
English. Most of them were short, jsuch as ''God 
save the Church." One which dates as far back 
as 1595 advises: "Embrace true museck." 

An old bell in Shropshire says: "lesvs bee ovr 
speede 1618."^ 

Notice the spelling of this one: "My Sound the 
Meane Yet doth aspire To sound men's Harts and 
raise them Hire, 1622." 

The inscription on this one in the York Minster 
is almost like that of the Lincoln bell: 

Sweetly tolling Men do call 

To taste on food that feeds the soul. 1627. 

iMany bells from different places, and of different dates, have this 


Another: ''God Save the King 1639." There 
are numberless bells to be found throughout England 
with this inscription. 

Here is a mixture of EngHsh and Latin, and a rime 
as well: 

God send us all the bliss of heaven 
Anno Dni. 1627. 

A ''passing bell" reads: 

+ all men that hear my momfvll soonde 
Repent before yov ly in ground. York 1645. 

Cardinal Wolsey brought a bell from Touray 
which was recast in 1670 with this inscription: 

By Wolsey's gift I measure time for all; 
To mirth, to grief, to church, I serve to call. 

A bell at Coventry, dated 1675, reads: 

I ring at 6 to let men know 

When too and from thair worke to goe. 

Another one of the seventeenth century : 

I ring to sermon with a lusty home 

That all may come and none may stop at home. 

Here is a favorite legend, which may be found on 
many old bells: 

I to the church the living call 
And to the grave do summon all. 

As time passed, it seems that the bell founders 
fell more generally into the custom of putting their 


own names on the bells, just as most instrument 
makers do now. Here is one which rimes with the 

(g) Matthew ® Bagley Made ® me 

i6 93. 
(Each ® represents the picture of a coin.) 

At first the inscriptions were designed by the 
priests, but later, when the bell maker or the church 
warden who ordered the bell also decided on the 
inscription, some of them became ridiculous and 
undignified, such as these : 

John Eyer gave twenty pound 
To meek mee a losty sound. 

At pra^^er times my voice I '11 raise 
And sound to my subscribers' praise. 

Samuel Knight made this ring 

In Binstead steeple for to ding. 1695. 

A bell dated 17 18 bears this inscription: "Pros- 
perity to those who love bells," and one of 1720: 
"When you me ring, I'll sweetly sing." This bell 
was evidently one of a set of chimes: 

When you us ring 

We '11 sweetly sing 1737. (Shropshire) 

A pleasing short one reads: "Peace and good 
neighborhood — 17 16." 

1770 — In tuneful peals your joys I'll tell 
Your griefs I '11 publish in a knell. 


1772 -^Although I am both light and small 
I will be heard above you all. 

1773 — I mean to make it understood 

That though I 'm little, yet I 'm good. 

The maker of this one must have been sure of its 
sound before it was cast : " If you have a judicious 
ear you'll own my voice sweet and clear. London 

In the church of St. Michael's, Coventry, a bell 
proclaims: ''Music is medicine to the mind." 

An ancient fire bell in Sherborne Abbey, which 
has announced fires for many centuries, has this 
quaint inscription: 

Lord, quench this furious flame; 
Arise ; run ; help ; put out the same. 

Many people gave bells to the churches, either in 
gratitude for having been guided home by them, or 
for other reasons. In some cases they wished to 
have their own names cast into the bell. On a bell 
in Alderton which was donated to. the church by 
Mary Neale, are these words: 

I 'm given here to make a peal. 

And sound the praise of Mary Neale. 

No one knows, however, whether this was done at 
Mary's order or as a compliment to her. 

The inscription on a bell in Glasgow Cathedral, 
which was recast in 1790, gives its own history: 
"In the year of Grace 1583, Marcus Knox, a mer- 
chant in Glasgow, zealous for the interest of the 


Reformed Religion, caused me to be fabricated in 
Holland, for the use of his fellow citizens of Glasgow, 
and placed me with solemnity in the tower of their 
Cathedral. My function was announced by the 
impress on my bosom: me audito, venias, 
DOCTRiNAM SANCTAM UT DiscAS, and I was taught 
to proclaim the hours of unheeded time. One hun- 
dred and ninety-five years had I sounded these 
awful warnings, when I was broken by the hands of 
inconsiderate and unskilful men. In the year 1790, 
I was cast into the furnace, refounded at London, 
and returned to my sacred vocation. Reader! thou 
also shalt know a resurrection ; may it be to eternal 
life! Thomas Mears /^cf^, London, 1790." 

Every bell maker had his own professional mark. 
Some of these are shown in figure 40. Not only 
the inscriptions and trade-marks, but the ornamen- 
tation on many of the old bells is very interesting. 
The best bell founders took great pride in their 
work, and some of the ancient bells have ornamen- 
tation that is exceedingly beautiful. Handsome 
capitals of various forms were used, also vine and 
fleur-de-lis borders, and royal arms and emblems. 
The crosses, word stops, and lettering frequently 
gave evidence of a high artistic taste, as may be 
seen in the drawings on page 82 (Fig. 41). 

A study of the inscriptions on old European 
bells gives an interesting insight into the lives and 
thoughts of the people of the olden times. These 
words and decorations are written in metal which, 




Fig. 40. Trade-marks and figures on early English hells 



Fig. 41. Fifteenth- 
century hell 
and lettering 


unless melted by fire, will continue to bear their 
records for the information of those who live a 
thousand years from now. They should be pre- 
served with every care, — 

Those bells "that tell a thousand tales, 
Sweet tales of olden times, 
And ring a thousand memories. " 



One of the strangest things in the history of bells 
is the custom of baptizing and christening them, 
after the manner of baptizing human beings. And 
yet it is not so strange, either, when we think of 
how bells were honored and cherished. The birth 
of a new bell really was a thing of great importance. 
Even yet, new church bells are often hung with some 
kind of celebration; and there are few persons who 
can listen for the first ringing of a new bell, and 
hear it without a feeling of awe and wonder and 
reverence, — the voice that has never been heard 
in the world before ! 

The people of nearly all countries have ascribed 
to bells, at some time, either human or divine 
attributes. Long ago it was a common belief that 
bells shivered and quaked at disasters, or when 
crimes were committed. In this connection the 
Celtic bell lore^ will be recalled. The sound of the 
consecrated bells in the church of St. Stephen, in 
the early seventh century, drove away the army of 
Clotaire, as the walls of Jericho had fallen down 
at the sound of trumpets. When St. Hilda died, 
bells were heard to ring seven miles away, and 
there are several stories of how bells in distant 

iSee chap, vi, p. 47. 



churches tolled of their own accord upon the death 
of certain bishops. It is therefore not so surprising 
that the Europeans of the Middle Ages should wish 
to baptize their bells with religious ceremonies, and 
that they believed them to possess miraculous powers 
after these ceremonies. 

The service of baptism was held in order that the 
bells might have power to "act as preservatives 
against thunder and lightning, and hail and wind, 
and. storms of every kind, and that they may 
drive away evil spirits." In those days it was a 
very common beHef that the air was filled with evil 
spirits which could be frightened away by certain 
sounds. Nearly all primitive people have believed 
in evil spirits, because it was such an easy way to 
explain things which they did not understand; and 
it is not surprising that even civilized people held 
for a long time to a belief which gave them an 
excuse to put the blame of such things as bad tem- 
pers and illness upon something other than them- 
selves. Some of the evil spirit superstitions were 
cherished by the Greeks. ^ 

In the minds of many the ringing sound of metal 
had, naturally, a power over these evil spirits, and 
when a bell was baptized and consecrated it imme- 
diately became their most dreaded enemy. An 
old English writer has given us an idea of how evil 
spirits were supposed to dislike the sound of bells: 
''It is said, the evil spirytes that ben in the region 

iSee p. 26. 


of the ayre, doubte moche when they here the bells 
rongen; and this is the cause why the bells ringen 
when it thondreth, and whan grote tempeste and 
to rages of wether happen, to the end that the 
fiends and wyched spirytes should ben abashed 
and flee and cease of the movynge of tempests." 

In the year 789 Charlemagne forbade the baptism 
of bells ; but it was a custom so revered by the people 
that it was later revived, and baptized bells were 
sacred to the people and for hundreds of years fol- 
lowing were believed to have miraculous power. 

In medieval days, when the new bell was finished 
the date for its baptism was set, some important 
person in the community was chosen as the god- 
father or godmother of the bell, and usually a white 
christening robe was made for it, as for an infant. 
The form of the ceremony which took place is some- 
what as follows: 

The new bell is brought into the church and 
hung at a height convenient for the priest to reach. 
On a table near by are placed the sacred vessels 
containing oil, salt, and incense; also water and 
napkins. Linen cloths are placed underneath the 
bell to receive the water used in washing it. The 
church dignitaries in their formal robes stand near 
the bell, and the choir is ready. First, psalms are 
sung; the officiating priest or bishop (as the case 
may be) blesses the water and salt, and the bell is 
washed and wiped with a napkin (see Fig. 42). 
This bathing with the salt water is to make the bell 



Fig. 42. Bell baptism in the Middle Ages: washing the hell 

demon proof. More psalms are recited; then the 
priest dips his right thumb into the vessel of sacred 
oil and makes the sign of the cross on the bell with 
his thumb, at the same time saying a prayer. This 
oil is wiped off and the choir sings the 28th Psalm. 
During this psalm the priest repeats some Latin 
words : Sancti ficetur et consecretur, Domine, signum 
istud in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, 
etc. (which means that he is consecrating the bell 
in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy vSpirit), 
calling the name of the bell and of the saint to 



Pig. 43. Bell baptism in the Middle Ages: blessing the bell 

whom it is dedicated. While reciting these Latin 
words the priest anoints the bell eleven times 
with more oil. Then, after a prayer invoking bless- 
ings on the bell, it is solemnly ''censed" (incense 
burned under it), and the choir sings Psalm 76. 
Then there is another prayer, more chanting, and 
the priest in grave silence makes the sign of the 
cross on the bell, covers it with a white garment, 
and the ceremony is over. Figures 42, 43, and 44, 
taken from a very old book, show the three stages 
in a bell-blessing ceremony of the Middle Ages. 




P^^^^^J ' ^S 

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^^ ^^^^M' 1 


HHMP-A^ i^'' '- ' ^^1^ ' ' 1 



■HI E^-^'h^mi'^ 1 






Fig. 44. 5g^/ baptism in the Middle Ages: censing the hell 

Nothing in those days could exceed the pomp 
and solemnity of a bell-christening service. Great 
sums of money were expended, even in poor villages, 
and costly feasts were given. In the accounts of 
the church wardens of St. Laurence, Reading, we 
find the following memorandum, dated 1499: 
' ' Payed for halowing of the bell named Harry vj s. 
viij d. And over that, Sir William Symes, Richard 
Clech, and Mistress Smyth being godfaders and 
godmoder at the consecracyon of the same bell, 
and beryng all other costs of the suffragan." 


Indulgences were sometimes granted at the con- 
secration of a bell. In 1490 the bishop of Ely 
granted "40 days' indulgence to all who would say 
5 Paternosters and 5 Aves at the sound of the Great 
bell, and 5 Aves at the sound of the small one."^ 

One of the prayers in the medieval ceremony of 
bell blessing is as follows : ' ' Grant that wheresoever 
this holy bell, thus washed, baptized and blessed, 
shall sound, all deceits of Satan, all danger of whirl- 
wind, thunder and lightning, and tempests may be 
driven away .... and the fiery darts of the 
devil made to fly backward at the sound thereof." 

In Longfellow's Golden Legend we have an account 
of storm fiends being commanded by their master 
to destroy the Strasburg Cathedral bells. They 
fail, and the storm fiends attribute their failure to 
the fact that the bells have been baptized^ : 

All thy thunders here are harmless ! 
For these bells have been anointed 
And baptized with holy water. 
They defy our utmost power. 

Consecrated bells were also supposed to have 
the power, merely by their ringing, to put out fire 
as well as to abate storms and protect the com- 
munity from lightning and pestilence. Many a bell 
of the Middle Ages bore the Latin inscription 
Frango fulgura! which means "I break the hght- 
ning." The records of Old St. Paul's Church in 

iH. B. Walters, in The Church Bells of England, Oxford, 1912. 
^See poem on p. 421. 


London show that the sacristan was bidden to 
"ringe the hallowed belle in great tempests and 
lightnings." In many places the ringers hurried 
to the church belfry as soon as threatening clouds 
appeared, so that the storm might be broken up 
before it became severe. 

During the last century a traveler in the Tyrolese 
Alps wrote: ''Bell ringing as the companion of 
thunderstorms is a permanent institution here. 
The man in charge of the chapel is on the lookout 
for thunderstorms, begins the bell ringing and 
continues to ring until the storm passes."^ It is 
recorded that as late as 1852 the bishop of Malta 
gave orders for the church bells to be rung for an 
hour to allay a gale of wind ; and it is said that even 
at the present day in France it is not uncommon 
for church bells to be rung to ward off the effects 
of lightning. 

The Swiss have a curious tradition that all the 
baptized bells in Switzerland take a trip to Rome 
every year during Passion Week, and get back in 
time to be rung on Easter morning. In other coun- 
tries, too, this story is cherished, and in some vil- 
lages the return of the bells on Easter morning is 
celebrated with great festivity and merrymaking. 

The uneducated man in Lithuania believes that 
a newly made church bell emits no sound until it 
has been consecrated and baptized. The Lithua- 
nians also have the poetical belief that the souls 

iRev. H. T. Ellacombe, in Church Bells of Devon. 



of the deceased are floated into heaven on the sounds 
of baptized bells. ^ 

Many bells have had pet names by which the 
common people called them, such as Great Tom 
(Oxford), Big Ben (London), Old Kate (Lincoln), 
but in the early days of England every church bell 

Fig. 45. Baptism of four hells for Notre Dame Cathedral {Paris, 1856) 

was supposed to be christened with a religious name. 
There is an account, however, of the great bell of 
the Lateran Church (Rome) being named in the 
year 968 by the pope, John XIII, only for himself, 
John. Comparatively few of the great number of 
baptized bells in medieval days are still hanging in 
their ancient belfries, and on some of these it is 
difficult to trace the characters which spell their 

1 Carl Engel, in Musical Myths and Facts. 



Illustrated London New^. Nov. 9, 1878 

Fig. 46. Blessing of the hells of St. Paul's Cathedral 

The ceremonies of bell baptism were discontinued 
in Protestant countries after the Reformation. It 
was impossible, however, for the people to be 



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Fig. 47, Dedication of the great hell for Cologne Cathedral, 
November, 1924 

indifferent to the arrival in their midst of a new 
bell or of a peal of bells. The day was observed as 
a holiday, with great merrymaking. Sometimes 
the donor of a peal of bells gave orders that the 


largest bell was to be set upside down on the ground 
and filled with punch, of which the entire village 
was permitted to partake; and the occasion was 
often one of revelry and indecorous excess. 

In Catholic countries, however, the baptism of 
church bells has been continued to the present day. 
The bells thus consecrated become vSpiritual things, 
and cannot be rung without the consent of the 
church authorities. Figure 45 (p. 92) pictures a 
baptism ceremony in Paris in 1856. 

Although Protestant bells are no longer baptized, 
they still undergo some form of dedication. In 
England it is customary for new bells to be dedi- 
cated by the bishop of the diocese. Figure 46 (p. 93) 
shows the blessing of one of England's best known 
chimes, those of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, in 
1878. At present in nearly all Christian countries 
church bells are dedicated with reverent ceremonies 
and suitable hymns; not, however, for any super- 
natural power which the bells may derive from it, but 
for the effect which such dignified ceremonial has on 
the attitude of the people. Figure 47 is a photo- 
graph of the dedication of the great bell for Cologne 
Cathedral in November, 1924. 



The important part which the church bell played 
in the lives of the people of Old England is perhaps 
best shown by the number of ways in which church 
bells were used. A quaint old writer thus briefly 
states their uses: 

To call the fold to church in time, 

We chime. 
When joy and mirth are on the wing, 

We ring. 
When we lament a departed soul, 

We toll. 

Church bells not only called the people to the various 
services of the church, but also rang for different 
parts of the service, reminded the people of the 
different days in the church year and the anni- 
versaries that were to be remembered, announced 
the hours of the day, and told of the important 
things that happened in the community.^ 

lA rich parish took pride in having separate bells, distinct in tone, 
for the different uses. These bells were put in different places about 
the church and were called by different Latin names, according to their 
uses. Here are some of the names given to distinguish the different 

The campana was the big bell that hung in the steeple and called 
the people to church. It was called campana from the name of the 
city in Italy where lived the bishop who first used a big church bell. 
The squilla was a small bell in the choir, rung at various parts_ of the 
service as a guide to the singers, and also to announce the different 
parts of the service to the congregation. Later this bell was called the 



The big tower bell served many purposes, and rang 
so often during the day that it must have been 
bewildering to one who did not follow the meaning 
of all the signals. In many places it rang early in 
the morning to waken the people of the parish. 
This was called the Gabriel bell. 

All the church services during the day were 
announced by the church bell. The Sermon bell 
indicated that there would be a sermon ; the Pardon 
bell was tolled just before and after the service, at 
which time the worshipers prayed for pardon of 
their sins; the Pudding bell was rung immediately 
after the service was over, and was supposed to give 
notice to the cook to prepare the dinner. 

The Sacring or Holy bell (the same as the Sanctus 
bell) was rung to call attention to the more solemn 
parts of the mass. It is still used in Catholic 
churches. At a very important point in the service 
called the ''elevation of the Host" it is rung and 
everyone in the church kneels at the signal. For- 
merly this little sacring bell was sometimes hung in 
a small turret outside the church, where it still may 

sanctus bell, or holy bell, and it is still known by that name. Dupla 
was the name of the clock bell that told the hours of the day. (This 
was used as early as the days of Edward the Confessor.) The cymbalium 
was the bell in the cloister to give signals to the monks. Nola was 
another bell named for the man who first used church bells, for he was 
bishop of Nola. The nola seems to have been hung in the refectory, 
or monks' dining hall, and was probably the ancestor of our modern 
dinner bell. The corrigiunculum was rung when some one had to receive 
the punishment of flagellation, or whipping. 

Parishes which could afford two big bells used one of them as the 
campana, or regular church bell, and the other one, called the signum, 
was rung at least eight times a day for various announcements to the 
people of the parish. 


be seen in some of the old churches. Often it was 
hung inside the church. Sometimes the sacring 
bell developed into a whole chime of bells. At 

From James, In and Out of the Old Missions of California 

Fig. 48. A wheel of sacring bells 

one place in England it was remembered that "in 
the tyme of the old law, eighteen little bells hung in 
the middle of the church which the pulling of one 
bell made them all ring, which was done at the 
elevation of the Host." Wheels of sacring bells 
are said to be very common in Spain. Figure 48 
shows one brought from Spain to America, which 
was used in a California mission. 

In some places the bells rang to announce that 
someone was being baptized. There are still par- 
ishes where it has been usual, from time unknown, 
to ring the Christening peal. 

The Angelus is a Roman Catholic devotion in 
memory of the visit of the angel who told Mary 



she was to be the mother of Jesus. Angelus is the 
Latin word for angel. The text of the Latin verses 
is recited three times a day in the Catholic church. 
A bell called the Angelus hell is rung at the same 
time, and all who hear it are supposed to stop their 
work and repeat these verses in devotion to Mary. 
The hours for this devotion are (since Louis XI 
so ordered in 1472) 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. 

Fig. 49. 

Gramstorff Bros., Inc.. Maiden, Mass. 

" The Angelus,'' from the painting by Millet 

The signal is three strokes, thrice repeated, followed 
by nine in succession. 

100 BELLS 

This was the ''bidding to the people, to the sick 
in bed, and to the healthy, to those at home, and 
to those abroad, that they should, as the sound 
floated through the villages — the maiden in her 
cottage and the laborer in the field — reverently 
kneel and recite the allotted prayers, beginning 
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Marie;^ hence it was 
called the Angelus bell. It was also called the 
"Ave bell," and sometimes the name "Gabriel 
bell" was applied to all three services. In Millet's 
famous picture of the Angelus (see Fig. 49, p. 99) 
a man and a woman working in the fields in France 
have just heard the Angelus bell from the little 
church in the distant village. Being good Catholics, 
with bowed heads they are repeating the Latin 
verses. This picture vividly illustrates the power of 
bells in the daily lives of these people. The custom 
is a beautiful one, and it seems a pity that other 
churches have not some similar signal for a moment 
of daily reverence. 

In some parts of England the bells rang a muffled 
peal on Holy Innocents Day, in memory of the 
massacre of the early Christian martyrs. It was 
called the Holy Innocents bell. 

The believers in evil spirits thought that these 
beings wandered around in the air waiting for an 
ill person to die so they could pounce on his soul 
while it was passing from the body to its resting 
place. If, however, the baptized bells rang while 

iRev. H. T, Ellacombe, in Church Bells of Devon. 


the person was dying, the evil spirits were frightened 
away and the soul could pass on in peace. The 
ringing of the bell at this time was called the Pass- 
ing bell. This was much like the custom in ancient 
Greece of beating on brazen kettles while a person 
was dying, to scare away the furies. 

The belief in this power of bells to help the depart- 
ing soul led many people to give large sums of 
money for the support of bells. This was also one 
of the factors which encouraged the making of bells 
of monstrous size; for if bell tones could frighten 
away evil spirits, how much more effectual they 
would be if the bell were large and its tone far- 
reaching ! It was ordered that all within hearing of 
the passing bell should pray for the soul of the dying. 

The Death knell was rung when the person was 
really dead, and this custom lasted much longer than 
the custom of ringing the passing bell. The practice 
of tolling church bells at deaths and during funeral 
services is still very common even in this country, 
as a way of showing respect to the person who has 
died. It was the custom for the death knell to 
indicate, by a certain number of rings, whether it 
was a man, woman, or child who had died. The 
most common signal was three rings for a child, 
two times three for a woman, and three times three 
for a man, but the rule was not the same in all. 

Often a large bell was rung for adults and a small 
one for children : three strokes for a male, two for a 

102 BELLS 

female, then it was tolled for one hour. Sometimes 
the age of the person who had died was also rung at 
the end of the death knell. 

There is a story that a wicked squire died, and 
no death knell was rung because his spirit came and 
sat upon the bell so that all the ringers together 
could not toll it! 

In most cathedrals a ' ' muffled peal ' ' is rung when 
a church dignitary dies. This is produced by 
wrapping one side of the clapper in a thick pad so 
as to form an echo to the clear stroke of the other 
half, and this is considered the most magnificent 
effect which can be produced by bells. ^ 

In a Wiltshire village in England it is still the 
custom to have the church bell ring out a joyous 
wedding peal, instead of the doleful tolling of the 
muffled knell, at the burial of a young maiden. 

At one time in England it was the custom to ring 
the bells throughout the night on Hallowe'en, or 
*' All-hallow- tide" as it was called, ''for all Christian 
souls." It proved to be very annoying. Henry VIII 
wrote a letter to Archbishop Cranmer ''against 
superstitious practices wherein the vigil and ringing 
of bells all the night on All-hallows-day at night are 
directed to be abolished, and the said vigil to have 
no watching or ringing." The people must have 
been slow to give up this custom, which they evi- 
dently liked, for we read that later Queen Elizabeth 
ordered "that the superstitious ringing of bells at 

iMary J. Taber, in Bells, an Anthology, Boston, 1912. 


All-hallow-tide, and on All-souls day, with the two 
nights next, before and after, be prohibited." 

The Curfew bell for hundreds of years was a most 
important time teller, and is well known both in 
history and literature. The ringing of this bell 
dates as far back as the ninth century, when Alfred 
the Great ordered the inhabitants of Oxford to put 
out their fires every night at eight o'clock when the 
bell at Carfax rang. About two hundred years 
after this William the Conqueror enforced, all over 
England, this same custom which Alfred had started 
at Oxford, though some writers give William the 
credit of being the originator of the custom. 

In those olden days the houses were heated by 
open fires. As matches had not been invented, it 
was difficult to start a new fire; so it became the 
custom to cover the red-hot coals with ashes in 
the evening before going to bed, and these coals 
would keep * 'alive" until morning. The new fire 
for the day could then be started merely by raking 
away the ashes and putting kindling wood on the 
coals. Finally it was found that if all the burning 
wood was pushed close against the back of the 
fireplace and carefully covered up with a kind of 
metal cap which kept out most of the air, the fire 
would be preserved as well as when the red coals 
were covered with ashes. The metal cap which 
was made for this purpose was called a fire cover, 
or in the French couvre-feu, which finally came to 
be pronounced ''curfew." Figure 50 is a drawing 


of an old decorated copper curfew. The one pic- 
tured here is about ten inches high and sixteen 
inches wide. 

If fires were allowed to burn late at night there 
was great danger of the houses burning, for at that 
time most of the houses were built of wood and 
covered with thatch (or straw) which became dry 
and burned very easily. But if all fires were put 
out early there was less danger of houses burning 


Fig. 50. A copper curfew 

Sit night. As the eight o'clock bell was the signal 
to cover the fire with the curfew, it was naturally 
called the curfew bell. 

William the Conqueror found the curfew custom 
also very helpful in checking nightly meetings where 
his enemies might form plots against him; also in 
helping to prevent surprise attacks from an enemy. 

In London, about the fourteenth century, it was 
unlawful for any armed person to wander about 
the city after the curfew rang, and at Tamworth a 
law was passed in 1390 which provided that "no 
man, woman or servant should go out after the 
ringing of the curfew, from one place to another, 


unless they carried a light in their hands, under 
pain of imprisonment." 

The curfew law was more or less enforced for 
many centuries, but it has gradually died out 
except in a few places. The custom was brought 
to America by the Pilgrim Fathers, and there are 
said to be a few towns in the New England States 
where it is still in use, the people being unwilling 
to give up this custom of their old homeland. In 
Charleston, South Carolina, as late as 185 1, two 
bells rang every night, at eight and ten o'clock in 
summer and at seven and nine during the winter. 
The first bell was the signal for the young children 
to go to bed; at the second bell, the "watch" for the 
night was set, and after that no servant might step 
outside his master's house without a special permit. 

At Oxford, England, the big bell in Christ Church, 
called ''Great Tom," is given one hundred and one 
strokes every night at nine o'clock, which is probably 
a survival of Alfred's law of more than a thousand 
years ago.^ 

A regulation somewhat like the curfew law was 
made for a short time during the late World War. 
London and other cities had no street lights at night, 
lest they prove helpful to the enemy in their air raids. 

Many poets have written about the curfew bell. 
A very famous poem, Gray's "Elegy in a Country 
Churchyard," begins 

''The curfew tolls the knell of parting day," 

iSee p. 103. 

io6 BELLS 

which suggests to the mind a definite picture, even 
before anything more is said. Thirty or forty years 
ago almost every school child heard recited a poem 
which related a tragic story of a woman whose lover 
was to be unjustly killed when the curfew rang. 
The refrain of ''Curfew shall not ring tonight" 
became a familiar expression. 

The Pancake hell is associated with the curfew 
bell, for on Shrove Tuesday the curfew bell was the 
signal which stopped the eating of pancakes. Shrove 
Tuesday (the Tuesday which comes forty days 
before Easter Sunday) was the day for eating pan- 
cakes; in much the same way we eat turkey and 
pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, or hot-cross buns 
on Good Friday. On Shrove Tuesday the church 
bell rang at four o'clock in the morning as a signal 
for the people to prepare for the feast of Lent. 
*'As a part of this preparation, they collected all the 
suet, lard and drippings in the house, and made 
it into pancakes, for this was the last day they 
might eat butter for forty days," and they wished 
to take full advantage of it. In some places the 
bell rang at midday as a signal to put the pancakes 
on the fire. 

Shakespeare refers to "a pancake for Shrove 

Tuesday," and in Poor Robin's Almanac for 1684 

we find the rime: 

Hark, I hear the Pancake Bell, 
And fritters make a gallant smell. 


Sometimes this signal was called the "Fritters bell." 
Another familiar rime will be recalled from an old 
Mother Goose song: 

Pancakes and fritters 

Say the bells of St. Peters. 

The apprentices were invited to join the family 
in eating the pancakes for supper. When the cur- 
few rang at eight o'clock (on this day it was called 
the pancake bell), not another pancake could be 
eaten for forty days. It is said that this custom 
was observed so closely that in many places not 
a pancake was left in town after eight o'clock. 

The church bells were very useful in directing 
people home on dark winter evenings in the days 
when the lands were not inclosed, the forests were 
dark, and the moors were wild and pathless. 

Lomax^ wrote: *'In an EngHsh village a bride 
had stolen forth upon her wedding day to hide in 
the furze. Becoming frightened, she left the place 
of concealment, and taking the wrong path, lost 
herself on the common. Darkness came on with 
heavy snow, and visions of robbers made the night 
more dreadful to the bewildered girl. But hark! 
Through the darkness comes the sound — never so 
sweet as now — of the old church bell ringing for 
curfew. Guided homeward by the welcome tone, 
she fell on her knees in gratitude which lasted to 
her dying hour; for her finst act was to present a 
chime of bells to the church that had so befriended 

^Benjamin Lomax, in Bells and Bell Ringers, 

lo8 BELLS 

her, her last to bequeath a sum of money to keep 
up the good old custom forever." 

In various parts of the country there are records 
of people who lost their way and only found it, or 
were saved from danger or drowning, by hearing 
the evening bell. In gratitude many of them gave 
large sums of money to be used in paying the sexton 
to ring the bells at times when their sounds might 
be of service to some belated traveler, to give him 
the time of the night and some guidance in the right 

The evening bell is still rung in some parishes 
during the winter months when darkness comes 
so early and travelers are likely to lose their way. 
A bell at Kirton-in-Lindsay is still rung at seven 
o'clock in winter "on Tuesday to guide travelers 
from Gainsborough Market, on Thursday from 
Brigg Market, and on Saturday from Kirton 

The Fire hell has been in use for ages. In these 
days the fire alarm is often a gong, and sometimes 
a shrieking whistle, but formerly the church bell 
was used to give notice of a fire. At Strasburg a 
large bell of eight tons' weight, known as the ''Holy 
Ghost bell," is rung only when two fires are seen 
in the town at once. 

A Storm hell warned travelers in the plains of 
storms approaching from the mountains; a Gate 
hell gave the signal for opening and closing the 
city gates. 


Before clocks and watches came into general use, 
the workers in the fields were summoned to their 
labors by a bell which was rung at five o'clock each 
morning and seven in the evening, the latter indi- 
cating that the labors of the day were to cease. 
The bell which called laborers to their work was 
called the Harvest hell or the Seeding hell, according 
to the kind of labor to be done. 

The ringing of the Gleaning hell is almost an 
obsolete custom. It was rung at nine o'clock in 
the morning and in the evening at frve to mark 
the time when the gleaners could go over the fields 
to get what the harvesters had left. Women were 
often to be seen standing in the fields before nine 
o'clock, patiently waiting to hear the first stroke 
of the bell. 

There seemed to be no stated time when workmen 
were supposed to quit work, and this had to be 
regulated by each community. Formerly the curfew 
bell rang at eight o'clock in all English towns. In 
1469 an order was given by the London Council for 
the bells of Bow Church to be rung every night at 
nine o'clock, allowing the shops and taverns to 
remain open for an hour later than formerly. This 
was the signal for all tradesmen to shut their shops 
and let their apprentices go home. Of course the 
apprentices of London were offended if there was 
any delay in the ringing of the Bow bells, and there 
is an old print that represents them as saying to the 
clerk who is supposed to ring the bells : 


"Clerk of the Bow bells 
With thy yellow locks, 
For thy late ringing, 
Thy head shall have knocks." 

And the clerk is recorded as replying: 

"Children of Cheap 
Hold you all still; 
For you shall have Bow bells 
Ring at your will." 

When other cities were given the privilege of keeping 
their shops open until nine o'clock, the ringing of 
the bell at that hour was called the Bow hell from 
the name of the bell used when this privilege was 
first granted. It was the Bow bells that, according 
to the story (see p. 260), Dick Whittington heard 
when he was a boy just reaching London. When 
he became a great merchant he gave a large sum 
of money to insure that the ''tenor bell" of Bow 
Church should be rung every morning at six o'clock 
and every evening promptly at eight for the benefit 
of the working boys. The records and the payments 
to the sexton show that this was kept up as late as 
the beginning of the nineteenth century.^ 

It was a general custom in bygone days to ring 
the church bell on market day, first as a signal for 
the selling to begin, and afterwards as a signal for 
it to stop. There were laws against ''forestalling," 
or buying before the bell rang, and heavy penalties 

iThe term "Cockney" refers to the people born within the sound 
of Bow bells. 


were imposed upon those who were too impatient 
and those who persisted too long. It was unlawful, 
says one writer, even to handle a goose before the 
bell said, ''You may bargain!" The Fair hell was 
rung at the beginning and end of a fair. 

In some places in England, according to one 
writer, the church bells rang to announce the 
arrival of the London coach. The coach often 
brought fresh fish for those housewives who had 
ordered it, and the church bells rang that they might 
hasten to the coach to secure the fish while it was 

The Oven hell gave notice when the lord of the 
manor's oven was ready for his tenants to use in 
baking their bread. 

In some country districts a church bell is still 
rung at the dinner hour. 

In times of great national danger church bells 
were used as signals from parish to parish to warn 
the people or to call them together when other 
means of quick communication were unknown. 
Macaulay, in his lay of "The Armada: a Fragment,"^ 
tells how 

Right sharp and quick the bells all night rang out 

from Bristol town, 
And ere the day three hundred horse had met on 

Clifton Down. 

The ordinary way of ringing a series of bells was 
to begin with the highest note and ring a descending 

'See also "Brides of Enderby," by Jean Ingelow. 

112 BELLS 

scale. When such a series of bells was used to give 
an alarm they were rung backward, — that is, 
beginning with the lowest note and ringing an 
ascending scale. Bells tolled backward was the 
signal first used as an alarm of fire, and afterwards 
for any uprising of the people. 

The Tocsin or Alarm hell has, in days gone by, 
sounded for dreadful doings. Church bells have 
rung for uprisings, revolts, and even for horrid human 
massacres, as for example, "the Sicilian Vespers," 
which occurred in the year 1282, when eight thousand 
French settlers in the island of Sicily were massa- 
cred. The signal for the massacre was the ringing 
of the church bells for Vespers, or evening prayer. 

Another famous instance is the ''massacre of 
St. Bartholemew." In the early morning hours of 
St. Bartholemew's Day, August 24, 1572, King 
Charles IX of France (under the influence of his 
wicked mother, Catherine de Medici) fired a pistol 
as the signal for tolling the bells backward, and 
a hundred thousand men, women, and children 
were massacred as the bells rang. 

During the French Revolution the backward 
ringing of the bells was the call of the people for 
some united attack against the royalists. Indeed, 
many bloody deeds and many national crimes in 
the past have been heralded by church bells. 

In cases of rebellion, also, the bells are rung 
backward, or sometimes muffled. Recall the lines 
in Scott's ''Bonnie Dundee," quoted on page 113. 


Dundee he is mounted, he rides up the street, 

The bells are rung backward, the drums they are beat. 

We often see the term "bell, book and candle" in 
the literature of the earlier days. This was the 
name given to an ancient form of excommunication 
practiced in the Catholic church which originated 
in the eighth century. The formula of excommuni- 
cation is read, the bell is rung, the book is closed, 
the candle is extinguished, and the person is no 
longer connected with the church or under its 

There is perhaps no use of church bells which is 
so widely known in Christian countries as the ringing 
of bells to herald the advent of the holy day, and 
no other season of the year is so closely associated 
with bells as Christmas. The custom of ringing 
a joyous peal of bells on Christmas morning has 
been for ages a beloved feature of the Christmas 
celebration, and we may be thankful that at least 
this one of the older ways has lived on. Among 
people of all languages and of all climates, — not 
only those who live where Christmas comes in win- 
ter, but also where Christmas comes in the warm 
summer time, — in every part of the globe where 
there are Christians, the church bells ring on 
Christmas morning. 

In many places, however, the bells ring on Christ- 
mas Eve at sunset, for according to the old church 
usage the real beginning of Christmas was at sunset 
on the day we call Christmas Eve. 

114 BELLS 

Numberless Christmas songs glorify the bell, and 
for weeks before Christmas, children everywhere 
sing about the merry bells heralding the glad tidings 
of the birth of Christ. All churches that have bells 
tuned to the different notes of the scale, send the 
old familiar Christmas hymns floating out on the 
air, either on Christmas morning or on the eve- 
ning before. Perhaps the hymn most often heard 
from the belfry at that season is ''O Come, iVll Ye 

What Christmas chimes meant to the people of 
Old England is shown very clearly in the books of 
Charles Dickens. For us, the Christmas bell has 
come to have a symbolic meaning. Bells are printed 
on Christmas cards, on all kinds of Christmas litera- 
ture, paper bells are sold for decoration, and enor- 
mous bell forms hang in the stores along with the 
other festive decorations of holly and mistletoe ; they 
are also used in home decorations, and tiny bells 
hang as symbolic ornaments on Christmas trees. 

There was an old belief in England that when 
Christ was born the devil died, and for an hour before 
midnight on Christmas Eve the church bell was rung, 
just as it would have been rung for some dying 
person, and this was called "the Old Lad's passing 
bell" ("Old Lad" being a nickname for Satan), 
the tolling changing to a joyful peal exactly at mid- 
night. Later the tolling was called the "devil's 
death knell." In some places of England this bell 
is still rung at midnight on Christmas Eve. 


On December 31, at midnight, for centuries the 
Old Year has died to the tolHng of bells, and the 
New Year heralded with joyful ringing. This cus- 
tom has also remained with us, and wherever there 
are church bells they are rung for the coming of the 
New Year. Tennyson's ''Ring Out, Wild Bells,"i 
commemorates this custom in beautiful poetic lines. 

Perhaps the earliest wedding bells were pieces of 
metal clashed together in the market place of some 
ancient peoples, when all the marriageable girls of 
the village were placed on view, and the young men 
assembled to choose their wives. Centuries after- 
ward, when church bells announced so many other 
important occasions, it was most fitting that they 
should ring to announce to the public that a new 
union had taken place in the church. 

One seldom hears the sound of wedding bells now, 
especially in the noisy cities. The wedding march 
played on the church organ has almost usurped the 
place of the more poetic marriage bells. But the 
symbol remains with us in decoration and story. 

iSee page 412. 



We are accustomed to bells which are hung in 
a belfry or tower of some kind. But the early 
churches had no such towers. Many of the first 
Christian church bells were fastened in tall trees 
that stood near the church. Even today, in some 
villages of Russia and other countries, the bell hangs 
on the branches of a tall tree in the churchyard. 
In Iceland the bell is usually placed in the "lych 
gate," a covered entrance to the graveyard. The 
tree belfry was once very common in Scotland and 

Sometimes a tall frame for the bell was made in 
the churchyard; and in other cases the bell was 
swung in a frame on the roof of the church, like the 
bell in Figure 5 1 . Soon the idea of protecting the 
bell from the weather led to the building of a frame 
with a cover over it — the early form of the bell 
tower. Two kinds of bell tower were developed, — 
one added to the roof of the church, and the other 
built entirely separate from the church. ^ 

In Servia the church bells are often hung in a 
framework of timber built near the west end of the 
church, while the bell towers of Russia and Italy 
are frequently separated from the main building. 

'See pictures of bell towers in the chapter on "Bells and Architec- 
ture," pp. 359-76. 




In some of the islands of Greece, also, the belfry 
is apart from the church, and the reason given for 
this is that in case of earthquake the bells are likely 
to fall, and if they were placed in the church tower 
they would destroy the roof of the church, and 
might cause the destruction 
of the whole building. 

It has often been observed 
that the vibrations of a large 
bell ringing in a tower can 
be felt in the masonry near 
it, and serious accidents 
have been caused by such 
vibrations. In 1810 the 
spire of a church in Eng- 
land fell while the bells were 
being rung for morning 
service, and twenty-three 
people were killed. In most 
church towers the bells are 
hung in a framework which, 
as far as possible, is kept 
clear of the walls. 

The vibrations in the air around ringing bells 
have been observed even in the case of small hand 
bells. This the Swiss muleteers have noticed, and 
are said to tie up their little bells at certain places 
on the road, lest the vibration from them should 
shake the delicately poised snow on the mountain 
side and bring down an avalanche. 

Fig. 51 

York Museum 

, Early Christian 
hell in standing 


The hanging of bells depends in large measure on 
the way they are to be rung, whether by hand, by 
a lever, by machinery, or by swinging against the 

There are four ways of ringing 
a bell: (i) striking by a clapper 
on the inside while the bell swings 
to and fro; (2) striking by a 
clapper on the inside, by some 
mechanical means, while the bell 
is stationary; (3) striking on the 
outside by hand while the bell is 

Fig. 52. " Liberty Bell," ^ .. / \ ^ m • ^i 

showing cannons bolted Stationary; (4) strikmg on the 
to wooden stock outsidc with a hammer controlled 
by mechanical means. 

Until quite recent times some of the larger bells 
suspended in church towers in various European 
countries were rung by being struck like a gong, by 
hand, while in parts of Ireland gongs were used 
as church bells as late as the seventeenth century. 
The bells in most of the old churches swung to 
and fro in their belfries, pulled over by ropes that 
hung down far below them. A bell that swings 
must have some means whereby it is turned on an 
axis, and its movements regulated by a rope. Until 
recently, this was managed by fastening the bell, 
with the bolts run through its ''cannons," very 
securely to a short, solid beam of wood called the 
"stock," so that when this beam turned over, the 
bell turned with it (see Fig. 52). This stock turns 



over by means of pivots called ''gudgeons," which 
rest in brass sockets set into the timbers of the 
bell frame. As the stock and bell turn over, the 
gudgeons turn in these brass sockets, usually called 
the /'brasses." The brasses must be perfectly 
level, and must also be kept well oiled and free from 
grit or dirt of any kind. One end of the stock is 
fastened to the spoke of a wheel, and one of the 
gudgeons forms the axis of the wheel. A rope 
fastened to another spoke passes around the grooved 
rim of the wheel, and falls through the floor of the 
bell chamber (Fig. 53). In Figure 54 (p. 120) is 
shown an ornate stock 
of the eighteenth century. 
A pull of the rope turns 
the wheel, revolves the 
stock upon the pivots of 
the axle, and lifts the 
mouth of the bell. The 
clapper rests against its 
lower side. When the 
rope is loosened and al- 
lowed to coil around the 
wheel again, the bell 
swings downward and the 
clapper strikes it on the 
other side. An upright 
bar called the "stay" 
strikes the "slider" underneath the bell, keeping the 
bell from turning completely over. 

Fig. 53. Showing method of hang- 
ing a church hell, with stock, stay, 
slider, wheel, pulley, and rope 



Before wheels were used, an upright post was fixed 
in the stock, and a rope tied to the top of the post. 
When the rope was pulled, the bell turned over. 




__ 'M 


-> ' y^/'TT^ 


~ — - :"S 

Fig. 54. An ornate stock of the eighteenth century 

The next development was to attach the rope to a 
half -wheel, with a deep groove in the rim to hold 
the rope. Later a three-quarter wheel gave better 
service, while now a complete wheel is used as a 
guider for the rope. 

In the case of very heavy bells, two wheels are 
necessary for steady swinging. Figure 55 shows a 
bell which was made to be rung with four ropes, 
two ropes attached to each wheel. This bell, which 
hangs in the Montreal Cathedral, weighs over 
fifteen thousand pounds. 



It is a common impression that a bell may be rung 
by pulling a rope which is tied above the ball of the 
clapper. But this does not produce a good tone 
and is dangerous to the bell. ''Clappering," as this 
practice is called, has been the cause of the breaking 
of many church bells, and must be severely con- 
demned. A ringing bell is very sensitive. Lomax, 
an English writer on bells, says that *'a touch, a 
scratch, may break the largest bell. A finger 

i^PMMIB^j^jHAjg^ ,,j 



MMiMB^^^^^^ -rh^ 1 


] , j^^n 



^K Oh If '' ^ni^^^Hn 


1 mmt 



[A . Ill 


Fig. 55. Large bell in Montreal, hung with two wheels 



pressed upon the surface, a thread tied around the 
barrel during its vibration, will break the bell as 
surely as a sledge hammer." 

A group of bells, with their supporting beams, 

stocks and gudgeons, 
wheels, stays, and ropes, 
looks very complicated; 
and indeed there is much 
to be kept in order. Even 
in the case of bells rung by 
machinery, much careful 
adjustment is required, 
and the wires which con- 
nect the striking hammers 
with the mechanism which 
operates them must be 
kept in perfect order, and 
very carefully regulated. 
Instead of cannons and 
wooden stocks, most bells 
of modern make are bolted 
into metal stocks which 
turn with the bell as it 
swings. One of these is 
shown in Figure 56. All 
bells which swing are 
provided with wheels and 

Meneely Bell Foundry FlgUrC 57 shOWS hOW E 

Fig. 57. Showing two ways ... 

of ringing the same bell bell may be struck on the 

John Taylor & Co. 

Fig. 56. Modern hell bolted 
into metal stock 


123 Bell Foundry 

Fig. 58, Bell hung with both 
wheel and hammer 

outside with a lever, and Figure ^^^ illustrates the 
lever attached to the top of the clapper which 
strikes the bell on the inside. If a double lever is 
used, with a rope for each 
hand, the bell may be 
rung as fast as the clapper 
can move from one side 
to the other. A double 
clapper^ also makes rapid 
striking easy. In Figure 
5 7 the bell may be struck 
either by machinery on 
the outside or by the clap- 
per pulled by a rope on 
the inside. 

The bells which ring clock chimes are examples 
of those struck by machinery. The levers are 
attached to the mechanism of the clock and at cer- 
tain times they are set free to fall upon the bell. 

Nowadays the bells of many city churches *'go 
by machinery," that is, they have clock-like machines 
which are wound up to strike the bells at certain 
hours, just as clocks are struck. 

In each of the above cases the bell is stationary, 
and the problem of hanging it is more simple than 
in those cases where the bells are rung by swinging 

Some modem bells are made with rotary yokes, 
as shown in Figure 58. By this method of hanging 

iChap. VII, p. 71. 2See Fig. 8i, p. i8o. 

124 BELLS 

the bell it may be turned around while still mounted, 
to allow the clapper to strike in a different place. 
When a bell is struck in one place for generations, 
it becomes worn in that spot and may crack unless 
it is turned. Many modern bells are hung so that 
they may either swing or be rung by a lever, as 
shown in this illustration. 

It is not practicable to arrange for the swinging 
of the heaviest bells. Sometimes even the lifting 
of a very large bell to a great height is a complicated 

Bells that are not to swing are hung in a fixed 
position, bolted to the bell frame, as shown in 
Figure 57 (p. 122). The English people are still 
partial to swinging bells, but most of the modem 
bells in America are stationary. 



When bells of different sizes were made, it did 
not take our European forefathers long to dis- 
cover the musical possibilities in them. Efforts 
were' then bent toward making a series of bells which 
could be played in a musical way, and it was soon 
discovered how they could be made to sound the 
different notes of the diatonic scale. ^ A set of bells 
thus tuned was called a "peal" of bells. 

The first tunable peal used in England was in 945. 
The ancient peal consisted of three bells, as the 
''ding-dong-bell" of the nursery rime reminds us. 
Such were the peals which the Dublin Cathedral 
used to the middle of the seventeenth century. In 
1456 Pope Calixtus III sent a peal of five bells to 
Kings College, Cambridge, and for some time this 
was considered to be the largest peal in the kingdom. 
At the beginning of the sixteenth century eight 
bells, tuned to the complete diatonic scale, were 
hung in a few of the principal churches. Long after, 
sets of ten or twelve bells were made, but eight was 
the most popular number for a peal of bells. 

The bells were rung by ropes fastened to a wheel, 
as shown in Figure 53 on page 119, and a separate 
rope was necessary for each bell. When a bell is 

iSee p. 70. 


126 BELLS 

properly rung by a rope, it mUvSt be inverted and 
swung, first in one direction and then in the reverse, 
right around above the frame, so that at the end of 
each swing it is mouth upwards and has performed 
nearly a whole revolution each time the rope is 
pulled. In careful peal ringing, a man to each bell 
is necessary. 

The earliest method of peal ringing was to ring 
all the bells in succession, beginning with the highest 
tone and repeating this series, over and over. This 
was called ''round ringing." Thus a peal of three 
bells would be (in number notation) 3-2-1, 3-2-1, 
etc. If the peal consisted of five bells, the tones 
would be 5-4-3-2-1, 5-4-3-2-1, etc. In a peal of 
eight bells the tones would be 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, 
8-7-6-5, etc., the 8 always following immediately 
after the i. The effect of this was pleasing, and it 
was not difficult to accomplish, for it meant merely 
taking each note in succession. 

In the early days round ringing was a fashionable 
pastime, especially in England, where gentlemen of 
leisure found it an interesting and fascinating art. 
A traveler who visited England in the year 1598 
writes in his journal: "The people are vastly fond 
of great noises that fill the air, such as firing of 
cannon, drums and the ringing of bells; so that in 
London it is common for a number of them that have 
got a glass in their heads to go up into some belfry 
and ring the bells for hours together for the sake 
of exercise." 


But in time a new way of ringing came into use. 
Instead of playing the bells in succession, it was per- 
missible to change the order and ring the series in 
some other succession rather than straight down 
the scale. This was called ''change ringing." It 
gave much variety to the sound of the scale, having 
the notes follow in a different order each time. And 
there were so many ways ! Even in a peal of three 
bells there were six ways of change ringing: 3-2-1, 
2-1-3, 1-2-3. 3-1-2, 2-3-1, 1-3-2. 

There were 120 ways of playing on five bells, 
using all five of them each time, and each bell only 
once! In a peal of eight bells there were 40,320 
changes, and upon a peal of twelve bells, no less 
than 479,091,600 changes! The rule for fi.nding 
out the number of changes possible on any number 
of bells is n(n — i) (n — 2). . . .3X2X1. For example, 
the changes on ^ve bells are 5X4X3X2X1, or 120. 

Up to the seventeenth century change ringing was 
confined to peals on five bells. Since swinging bells 
require so much space for their swinging, in order 
that they may not interfere with each other, it is 
not practicable to use many bells, and eight consti- 
tute the average peal. However, ten or twelve 
bells have often been used for change ringing. 

When more than three or four bells are used for 
change ringing, a leader is required to call out the 
succession of bells. Sometimes the leader also takes 
charge of one of the ropes. Figure 59 (p. 128) is 
from an old drawing from the Illustrated London 



News of 1856, which represents a group of six ringers, 
and evidently one of the ringers is also conductor. 
Round ringing had been very popular; but when 
change ringing came into vogue it took the ringing 
world by storm. By the end of the seventeenth 
century changes were rung on eight bells. The next 

From an old drawing by Keene 

Fig. 59. Bell ringers 

century was the golden age of bell ringing, and then, 
indeed, England deserved the name of the "land of 
bells." Ringing became one of the most popular 
forms of sport, ranking with hunting and football. 
The ''country squire, the professional man, the 
tradesman in the town, and the craftsman in the 
village," all found entertainment and exercise in 
change ringing. The custom was encouraged, and 


books were written with rules and directions for the 
changes clearly set forth. 

A writer who published a book in London about 
1796 on The Art of Ringing states: ''As an athletic 
exercise or amusement, there are few of so noble 
a nature, so conducive to health, and employing 
so many faculties, both mental and corporal, as 
that of the Art of Ringing." Some of the directions 
were very intricate, quite like mathematical prob- 
lems, and challenged the mental concentration of 
the ringers (or at least that of the leaders) as well 
as muscular control in the use of the ropes. 

In 1880 a book was published in London called 
Change-Ringing Disentangled, by the Reverend 
Woolmore Wigram, in which the directions were so 
clearly stated that it seems worth while to quote 
a few paragraphs from that book: 

" The bell in motion. Watch the bell while it is being 
rung. You will see in the first place, that the clapper, 
which rests on one side of the bell when she is set mouth 
uppermost [bells are always feminine], moves with her 
as she is swung round ; and at the moment when the bell 
slackens her motion as she turns mouth uppermost, 
being about to balance, the clapper flies across, and, 
striking the opposite side, lies still once more on the 
place which it struck. 

" (2) You will observe that as the bell is set, the stay 
rests against the slider on one side and on the other 
alternately; and that the rope at the one position crosses 
the wheel, merely touching it, but at the other position, 

130 BELLS 

the rope is wound round the wheel for the greater part 
of its circumference. The former position is that of the 
* hand stroke ' ; the ringer then has the tuffing of the rope 
in his hand, and the slack part lies before him on the 
floor in a large loop, the extreme end being held in his 
left hand. The latter position is that of the 'back 
stroke'; and the ringer then has only the extreme end 
of the rope within reach, a large portion being gathered 
round the wheel. [See Fig. 60, p. 133.] 

*' (3) If the bell be swung too hard, the stay will rebound 
from the slider, and the bell will return, swinging down 
again, instead of coming to rest. If the bell be checked 
too soon, she will fail to balance, not rising sufficiently 
high ; and again she will swing down before she is wanted. 
But that which is required is knack, not strength — the 
weight of the bell does the work; the hand of the ringer 
interferes only at what a mechanic would call 'the 
dead point'; i.e., the moment at which the bell is on the 
balance and when a very slight force is required to send 
her either way. 

"The exact position in which a bell is brought to rest 
admits of some variety. She may be allowed to go right 
up, and back, until the stay rests against the slider; in 
which case she has passed the balance; and if the stay 
broke would swing down on the other side. She may be 
just balanced, so that the touch of a finger will bring her 
back again ; or she may be held by the rope in some posi- 
tion between these two. In the first case, the bell is 
said to be 'rung high'; in the second, to be 'rung low.' 
It obviously will require more time and labor to bring 
her back from the first position than from the second; 
hence the former is used in slow ringing, the latter in 
quick ringing; and the expressions 'high compass' and 


'low compass' mean, in the language of ringing, exactly 
the same as ' slow time ' and ' quick time' in the language 
of music. 

** (4) It is thus seen that the bell is a large pendulum, 
swung through the entire circle; and that in the hands 
of a good ringer she will be balanced exactly each time 
she is set, without resting any weight against the stay 

and slider From the time when the bell is 

pulled off the balance until she goes up and balances 
again, she is beyond all control, and during that interval 
the rope must be left entirely free. 

"The smallest bell is called the treble, and the largest 
the tenor, whatever the number of the ring or keynote. 
The others are called second, third, and so on, counting 
from treble to tenor. 

''Hand stroke and hack stroke. The bells having been 
rung up and set mouth uppermost, each is struck twice 
before it returns to the same position. The first of these 
blows is called the hand stroke, and the second the 
back stroke. And when the bell, having been struck 
twice, has been brought back to the position from 
which she started, a whole pull has been made with her 
[see Fig. 60]. 

"A 'peal' means the full number of changes which can 
be produced upon the ring, or set, of bells," [In the case 
of more than seven bells, 5,000 changes constitute a peal. 
It would take nearly thirty-eight years to ring all the 
changes on twelve bells — 479,001,600!] 

"The changes on four bells are called 'singles'; on 
five, 'doubles'; on six, 'minor'; on seven, 'triples'; on 
eight, ' major ' ; on nine, ' caters, ' etc. The rule or method 
by which the changes are produced is called 'the method.' 
Thus the expression 'a peal of grandsire doubles' means 

132 BELLS 

1 20 changes in the method called 'grandsire,' and rung 
upon five bells. *A peal of grandsire triples' means 
5,040 changes in the same method upon seven bells. 
*A peal of treble bob minor' means 720 changes in the 
method called 'treble bob' upon six bells. *A peal of 
treble bob major' means 5,000 or more changes in the 
treble-bob method rung upon eight bells. 

"A bell 'hunts' when she leads a whole pull, strikes 
once in the place of each bell in succession, lies behind 
a whole pull, and then returns in the same manner step 
by step to the lead. 

''The changes on three bells are all produced by 
hunting alone. But in the case of four bells, it is neces- 
sary to employ in addition, place making and dodging. 
It is called the 'bob method,' and the rule is as follows: 
All the bells hunt until the treble leads; the bell which 
she turns from the lead makes second's place, and leads 
again; those above second's place making at the same 
time a single dodge. The whole peal is here given: 

2 I 4 3 4 I 2 3 

2413 1432 "The learner will observe that 
4231 1423 the treble, and she alone, has a 
4321 4132 plain hunting course throughout. 
3412 4312 All the other bells have to vary, 
3142 3421 each taking her turn in making 
1324 3241 second's place, and in dodging in 
1342 three-four." 

3124 2314 
3214 2134 
2341 1243 
2431 1234 



Figure 60, taken from another book published 
about the same time, shows the position of the bell 
when it is set at hand stroke and back stroke. 

Fig. 60. A bell set at hand stroke and at back stroke. The hands (a) 
and (b) correspond to the ringers' positions (a) and (b) 

The Reverend H. T. Ellacombe, an EngHsh bell 
authority, writing in 1872 says: "Of all arts and 
pastimes, change ringing is preeminently one which 
exercises the mind and body at the same time; 
. . . usually a strong, steady pull repeated every 
four or five seconds. ... In ringing a peal, 
each ringer must so balance his bell, not once in 

134 BELLS 

half a dozen times, but at every pull throughout 
the whole performance, be its duration measured 
by minutes or hours. Besides this mere physical 
dexterity, the ringing of changes requires a mental 
effort to be made and kept up, conjointly with the 
physical exertion and adjustment. 

" 'Set' or 'call' changes are very common; but 
in change ringing proper, the bells are never sounded 
twice in the same order; and this is continued to 
the end of the peal, when the bells are brought home 
to their regular places. This end is only to be 
attained by each bell being made to follow a certain 
course, and to change places with the other bells 
by the evolution of certain rules or 'methods.' To 
manage his bell properly in this respect, and guide 
it up and down the maze, making it strike now 
before, now after this and that other bell, not only 
requires much practice and study, but a cool head 
and close attention. And this necessity justifies 
the remark that ringing requires a mental as well 
as bodily effort. Its popularity in England is not 
to be wondered at." 

In Southey's Life of John Bunyan an interesting 
account is given of Bunyan 's attitude toward ring- 
ing: "He had taken great delight in bell ringing, 
an exercise in which it is now difficult to see any 
harm, but which he began to think a vain and sinful 
practice, probably from its being connected with 
the externals of the Established Church; still he so 
hankered after his old amusement, that though he 


did not pull a rope himself, he would go and look 
at the ringers, not without a secret feeling that to 
do so was unbecoming the religious character he 
professed. A fear came upon him that one of the 
bells might fall; to secure himself against such an 
accident, he stood under a beam that lay athwart 
the steeple from side to side; but his apprehensions 
being once awakened, he then considered that the 
bell might fall with a swing, hit the wall first, 
rebound, and so strike him in its descent. Upon 
this he retired to the steeple door, thinking himself 
safe enough there, for if the bell should fall, he 
might slip out. Further than the door, he did not 
venture, nor did he long continue to think himself 
safe enough there ; for the next fancy that possessed 
him was that the steeple itself might fall, and this 
so much disturbed him that he dared not stand at 
the door any longer, but fled for fear the tower 
should come down upon him." 

Southey himself looks with more charity upon 
the practice. He says: ''Great are the mysteries 
of bell ringing. And this may be said in its praise, 
that of all devices which men have sought out for 
obtaining distinction by making a noise in the world, 
it is the most harmless." 

England has long been called ''the Ringing Isle," 
and Handel, who lived for a long time in England, 
called the bell the English national instrument. 
Nothing which can be done with bells (says an 
English writer) "is to be compared with our old 

136 BELLS 

English mode of ringing peals and musical changes. 
One of the greatest charms is in the effect of the 
wind carrying the sound, now near, now far, and 
near again." Although many consider the bells of 
the continent finer than those of England, yet 
nowhere in the world have bells been used with such 
effect as in England. 

Mr. E. B. Osborn, an English writer on bells, says 
in the London Morning Post, July 25, 1913 : ''Why 
change ringing should be the Englishman's favorite 
form of bell music is, I think, easily explained. It 
involves much physical exertion, which tires, but 
need not overtax, as many muscles as are used in 
rowing, and is unquestionably one of the finest 
exercises known. . . . Strictly speaking, change 
ringing is not music at all ; though when the voices of 
the bells used are mellow and melodious, it decorates 
the passing time with simple, subtly-varied sound- 
patterns, and forms an acceptable obligato to the 
elemental emotions of an individual or the nation." 

Various devices have been used for striking bells 
in a more convenient way than by swinging them, 
but lovers of bell ringing still cling to the old prac- 
tice, and claim that the full value of bell ringing is 
obtained only when the bells are swung with their 
mouths uppermost, and in peals of six or eight bells 
managed by as many ringers acting in harmony 
under a leader. 

If bells do not swing when they are rung, they are 
not properly called "peals," according to one of 


the bevSt English bell authorities. It is said that 
only in England are bells rung in peal (with swinging 
bells), excepting one or two rings in America and 
in the English colonies. There is a set of genuine 
peals in St. Matthew's Church, Quebec, Canada. 
One of the largest and finest peals in England is 
at Exeter Cathedral; another celebrated one is that 
of St. Margaret's, Leicester, which convSists of ten 
bells. If bells are struck by iron or wooden ham- 
mers while the bells are not in motion, they produce 
a mournful effect, Starmer says, "but the sound of 
swinging bells is totally different, and a well rung 
peal is never mournful, but is always joyful and 

Swinging bells, such as are used in change ringing, 
have not been manufactured in America because 
there has been no demand for them. 



In the seventeenth century change ringing was 
so popular that ringing clubs were organized, with 
special conditions for membership, regular meeting 
times, and strict rules of order. There still exists 
in England an organization called the Society of 
College Youths which is said to have been founded 
on November 5, 1637, and is probably the oldest 
existing company of change ringers. Sir Richard 
Whittington, the famous lord mayor, founded a 
College of the Holy vSpirit and St. Mary on College 
Hill, London. That church contained a ring of six 
bells, and the neighboring gentry used to amuse 
themselves by chiming them in rounds. This was 
said to be the origin of the name ''college youths. "^ 
The society was founded by members of the ' 'nobility 
and gentry for the purpose of practicing and pro- 
moting the art of ringing." At first they rang only 
rounds and "set" changes; but afterward accom- 
plished a complete peal of 120 changes on five bells. 
This society can boast, among its founders and 
members, men in all ranks of life from the peerage 

Changes proper were supposed to have been first 
rung about 1642, but little progress was made until 

iH. B. Walters, in The Church Bells of England. 



a book called Campanologia was published in 1677 
and dedicated to the Society of College Youths. 
Thus provided with a guide and textbook, the art 
of bell ringing developed rapidly. Other books 
were written, and during the next century ringing 
societies were organized all over the country. 
Many a town added to its bells in order to keep up 
with its neighbors in this fashionable amusement, 
and then, if ever, England justified the name of 
''the Ringing Isle." 

Some of these ringing clubs would travel about 
the country, ringing peals in different belfries. The 
College Youths rang in all parts of the country, and 
even crossed the Channel into the continent to ring 
in foreign belfries. All the ringing societies took 
great pride in performing feats of great endurance 
and precision. One astonishing feat is recorded 
wherein eight members of the College Youths were 
locked in the belfry of St. Matthew's Church, 
Bethnal Green, in 1868, and rang 15,840 changes 
without stopping. They began at 8:45 in the 
morning and accomplished this feat in nine hours 
and twelve minutes. 

Other bell-ringing societies were the Cumberland 
Society of Change Ringers, the Society of Union 
Scholars, the Society of Eastern Scholars, the 
Society of London Youths, Westminster Youths, and 
Prince of Wales Youths. 

In former days the College Youths attended 
the divine service at Bow Church in a body on 


November 5 (the anniversary of its foundation) and 
other occasions. At such times the beadle of the 
society carried a staff surmounted by a massive 
silver bell. This bell is now in the possession of 
the Junior Society of College Youths. 

Each ringing society had its own set of rules and 
by-laws necessary for the orderly and instructive 
use of the bells. Copies of the old rules may still 
be seen hanging on the walls in many belfries. 
Some of them are still read at the annual meetings 
of the societies. They are often in verse, but the 
oldest ones are in prose. 

The oldest rules known are those from the Society 
of St. Stephen Ringers at Bristol, and date back to 
the time of Queen Elizabeth. There are thirty of 
these rules, in prose, from which the following are 
taken '} 

1 . None shall be of the said Society save those who shall 

be of honest, peaceable, and good conversation. 

2. They shall at all times be ready to defend the said 

Society against all charges that may be brought 
against it. 

3. They must endeavor to gain credit by the musical 

exercise, etc. 
12. If anyone of the said Company, after the time that 
he shall come into the church to ring, shall curse 
or swear, or make any noise or disturbance, either 
in scoffing or unseemly jesting, that the party so 
offending shall pay for his offense threepence (to 
be divided among the Company). 

iH. B. Walters, in The Church Bells of England. 


15. If anyone of the said Company shall speak, or make 
any manner of noise, when the Bells do ring, so 
that the ringers or any of them by that means may 
make a fault, the party so offending shall pay for 
his offense threepence, to be divided among the 

17. If any of the said Company do or shall, after they are 
come together, quarrel or misuse any of the said 
Company, before they do depart, the party so 
offending shall pay for his offense sixpence, to the 
use of the said Company. 

22. If anyone of the said Society shall be so rude as to 
run into the belfry before he do kneel down and 
pray, as every Christian ought to do, he shall pay 
for the first offense, sixpence, and for the second, 
he shall be cast out of the Company. 

At Shillingstone, Dorset, Dr. Raven copied a set 
of rules headed by the prose injunction: *' Praise 
the Lord with Lowd Symbols : if you curse or sware 
during the time of ringing you shall pay threepence." 
Below are the lines: 

There is no musick played or sung 
Is like good Bells if well Rung 
Put off your hat, coat and spurs 
And see you make no brawls or iares 
Or if you chance to curse or sware 
Be sure you shall pay sixpence here 
Or if you chance to break a stay 
Eighteenpence you shall pay 
Or if you ring with gurse or belt 
We will have sixpence or your pelt. 


142 BELLS 

In a belfry in Homsey, Middlesex, is a set of rules 
which may be called the normal type : 

If that to ring you do come here 

You must ring well with hand and ear; 

If that you ring in spur or hat 

A quart of ale must pay for that. 

And if a bell you overthrow 

Sixpence is due before you go. 

And if you curse or swear, I say, 

A shilling's due without delay. 

And if you quarrill in this place 

You shall not ring in any case. 

The sexton must have been very watchful for his 
fee, which seemed to be derived from the fines of 
these gentlemen members of the ringing club. 

Here are some of the "Orders" of the Ringers 
Regulations at Holy Trinity in Hull: 

(i) 6d. for ringing any bell with hat or spurs on. 

(2) IS. for pulling bell off her stay and not set it right 


(3) 6d. for throwing bell over, and cost of any breakage 

caused by it. 

(4) 6d. for not hanging up the rope when he is finished 


(5) 6d. for cutting on the lead or marking it up in any way. 

(6) 6d. for having read the above orders with his hat on. 

In some cases the last order includes spurs, ''with 
hat or spurs on." 

From a belfry in the Welsh border country were 
taken the following rules in verse: 


Ringer's Rules 

If for to ring you. do come here 

You must ring well with hands and ear; 

And if 3^ou ring with spur or hat, 

A quart of beer is due for that. 

And if the bell you overthrow 

A shilling pay before you go : 

The law is old, well known to you 

Therefore the clerk must have his due. 

The ''jugg of beer" played only too prominent part 
in the ringers' doings in the Stuart and Georgian 
eras. In Warwickshire one of the bells, dated 1702, 
has the words: "Harken do ye heare our claperes 
want beere," a gentle hint as to how the ringers 
wished to be refreshed after their efforts. 

Briscoe, in his Curiosities of the Belfry, gives many 
of the old ringers' rules that may still be seen in the 
old belfries. The general ideas seem to be the same 
throughout the country, though the rules vary as 
to details. Some of them forbid cursing, telling lies 
in the steeple, or coming into the belfry intoxicated. 

In all cases the fines went to the regular church 
bell ringer, who had to keep the bells and ropes in 
good order. 

On a board affixed to the wall of a church in Corn- 
wall is this : 

We ring the quick to church, the dead to grave, 
Good is our use, such useage let us have. 
Who swear, or curse, or in a furious mood 
Quarrels, or strikes, although he draws no blood 

144 BELLS 

Who wears a hat, or spurs, or turns a bell 
Or by unskilful handling mars a peall 
Let him pay sixpence for each single crime 
Twil make him cautious gainst another time. 

At Dundee, one of the regulations reads: ''There 
shall be one regular practice night every week, on 
such a day and at such an hour as the steeple keeper, 
with the consent of the authorities of his church or 
tower, may appoint. If in his judgment more prac- 
tice be desirable, he must exercise a wise discretion, 
inasmuch as every residenter is not a lover of bell 
ringing, and the tongues of the bells should be tied 
if there be more than one night's practice each week. 
In fixing practice nights, due regard must be had 
to the church services and choir practice; at those 
times the belfry should be closed to all. Also the 
feelings and wishes of any sick person in the neigh- 
borhood must be tenderly considered." 
In All Saints Church in Hastings : 

I. H. S. 

This is a belfry that is free 

For all those that civil be; 

And if you please to chime or ring, 

It is a very pleasant thing. 

There is no music played or sung 

Like unto bells when they 're well rung ; 

Then ring your bells well if you can 

Silence is best for every man. 


But if you ring in spur or hat 
Sixpence you pay, be sure of that ; 
And if a bell you overthrow 
Pray pay a groat before you go. — 1756. 

At the end of one of the ringers' rules : 

These eight Bells rung with care and art 
With joy will transport every heart. 

In the belfry of Redbourne Church: 

All that intend to take these ropes in hand 

To ring, mark well these lines and understand, 

Which if with care you read will plainly see 

What fines and forfeits are the sexton's fee: — 

He that doth break a stay or turn a bell, 

The forfeit is a groat, it's known full well; 

And carelessly to ring with spur or hat, 

The forfeit is a groat, beware of that. 

And they that fight or quarrel, swear or curse, 

Must pay two pots, turn out, or else do worse; 

And for unlocking the steeple door. 

And for sweeping of the belfry floor, 

And to buy oil you know is very dear, 

And for my own attendance given here. 

If you will well observe such rules as these 

You 're welcome for to ring here when you please. 

Pray remember the sexton, Jos. Brown. 

May 1764. 

It seems that the bell ringers' societies must have 
cultivated the art of poetry along with their music. 

146 BELLS 

to the extent of having poet laureates. The follow- 
ing lines were written by the poet laureate of a 
bell ringers' guild which was established by charter 
in 1620: 

Then the folks every Sunday went twice at least to church, 

And never left the parson, nor his sermon, in the lurch. 


And in regard to security of property: 

Then our streets were unpaved, and our houses were 

all thatched, Sir, 
Our windows were all latticed, and our doors were only 

latched, Sir; 
Yet so few were the folks that would plunder or would 

rob, Sir, 
That the hangman was starving for want of a job, Sir. 

There is in Suffolk an epitaph of a ringer who died 
in 1825 at the age of eighty: 

To ringing from his youth he always took delight ; 
Now his bell has rung, and his soul has took its flight. 
We hope, to join the choir of heavenly singing, 
That far excels the harmony of ringing. 

Figure 6 1 pictures the members of a ringing society 
in 1856 ringing the bells in their rejoicing over the 
close of the Crimean War. Figure 46/ drawn for 
the Illustrated London News in November, 1878, 
shows a group of ringers who were members of the 

^See chap, ix, p. 93. 



From Illustrated London News 

Fig. 61. The peace rejoicings in 1856 

148 BELLS 

Ancient Society of College Youths in the dedica- 
tion of the new bells for St. Paul's Cathedral. 
According to the News the service concluded at 
5 :3o, when the bells burst into a joyous peal. Two 
ringers had to ring the tenor bell, weighing 6,200 
pounds and five feet in diameter. The ringing lasted 
until 7 130, about a thousand changes being executed. 



The tune-playing possibilities of bells have been 
known since the earliest civilizations. There are 
records of the Chinese having used bells tuned to 
certain scale notes nearly five thousand years ago. 
It is claimed that once on a time the Chinese could 
play the entire scale on one bell — a kind of bell 
that was cast with knobs on the surface, ^ each knob 
giving a different note of the scale when it was 
struck. This method, however, was probably unsat- 
isfactory, as it was given up later and separate 
bells were used for the different notes. The bells 
found in the tombs of the ancient Assyrians show 
that they must have been used for melody playing. 
Numerous bells, varying in size and tone, have been 
found in the tombs of the Etruscans; and one of 
their ancient instruments has been found which 
consists of a row of bronze vessels placed on a metal 
rod in the same manner in which we place our 
musical bells today. It is also known that the 
Romans used bells that were attuned to different 

Nearly all primitive peoples employ the jangling 
sound of metal for musical effect. As the musical 

iSe.e p. 302. 




sense becomes more and more developed, they 
contrive more intelligent uses of metal, until, as in 
the case of the Japanese gongs, music is produced 
that is melodious and pleasing, even to European 

Old illuminated manuscripts show that the 
Christians used bells for tune playing at a very early 
date. Figure 62 is copied from an ancient manu- 
script which is said to date from the time of Charle- 
magne (768-814), and shows King David sitting 
on a throne, striking a lyre with his left hand and 
holding a scepter in his right. He is probably 
engaged in singing psalms, accompanied by four 
musical instruments — the pneumatic organ, a sort 
of violin, a trumpet, and a set of bells. 

From an eighth-century MS. 

Fig. 62. King David and other musicia?is 

A ninth-century manuscript gives an interesting 
drawing (see Fig. 63) of rote and bell music combined. 



The rote — an early Irish instrument — has five 
strings, and we presume they were tuned to accord 

From a ninth-century MS. 

Fig. 63. Rote and hells 

with the tones of the bells. The bells were sus- 
pended on a rod fastened across an arch in the 

By the tenth century bell ringing for melody seems 
to have been practiced extensively in Europe, the sets 
consisting of four or five bells. The old manuscripts 



which give the pictures indicate that this playing 
was connected with the reHgious services in the 
church, and probably accompanied the singing. 

Figure 64, from a manu- 
script in the Brussels 
Library, represents a woman 
sitting on a fantastic chair 
playing on four bells which 
are suspended on a rod 
under an arch in the church. 
On the capital of a column 
in the ancient church of St. 
George de Bocherville, Nor- 
mandy, founded by William 
the Conqueror, may be seen 
the figure of a king playing 
upon a set of five bells. The 
figure sitting in front of him 
probably played a rote or harp of some kind, but 
it has been broken away (see Fig. 65). 

As the church organ developed, bells were attached 
to that instrument, and the combination of organ 
and bell tones in the church services became very 

Aelred, an abbot of Rievaulx,i who lived in the 
twelfth century, cries in pious horror: ''Why such 
organs and so many cymbals [small bells] in the 
church? What with the sound of the bellows, the 
noise of the cymbals and the united strains of 

iRev. Francis William Galpin, in Old English Instruments of Music. 

From a tenth-century MS. 

Fig. 64. A bell ringer 


the organ pipes, the common folk stand with won- 
dering faces, trembhng and amazed!" 

A monk who hved toward the end of the eleventh 
century described the making of these bell cymbals. 
They were little hemispherical bells cast in molds 
that were carefully prepared and proportioned, the 

FiG. 65. A bell ringer on the capital of an eleventh-century church 

metal being a mixture of tin and copper, with fiYe 
or six times as much copper as tin. If the tone 
was not right, it was rectified by filing. 

Sets of bells suspended in wooden frames are 
frequently found in the representations of musical 
performances dating from the Middle Ages. In the 
British Museum is an ancient psalter in manuscript, 
of the fourteenth century, which shows King David 
(see Frontispiece) holding in each hand a hammer 

154 BELLS 

with which he strikes upon bells of different sizes 
suspended on a wooden stand. 

In Figure 66 is seen a complete orchestra of the 
early fifteenth century, consisting of harp, psal- 
tery, triangle, clarion, and chime bells. 

The method of playing tunes by swinging bells in 
the hand is also of ancient date. The Lancashire 
bell ringers have long been famous in England for 
this kind of music. Each ringer of the Lancashire 
ensemble manages two bells, holding one in each 
hand, so that a group of four ringers may eavsily play 
melodies within the range of an octave of the dia- 
tonic scale. It is their custom for each ringer to 
have two other bells which he may substitute when- 
ever required; so that, if they are skillful in the 
management of their bells, both as to ringing and 
making the exchanges of bells, seven ringers with 
twenty-eight bells may produce rather intricate 

The Swiss bell ringers have a device by which 
each ringer plays four bells in each hand, one ringer 
giving the complete diatonic scale. The bells are 
fastened four on one handle, and the clappers are 
so fixed that when the cluster is turned in one direc- 
tion, one bell sounds, and it is turned in a different 
direction for each of the three other bells to sound. 
It requires a strong wrist to manage skillfully the 
weight of four metal bells in each hand. 

When the player has only to regulate the stroke 
of a hammer, it is easier to give the stroke at the 



precise moment than when he swings a bell. It is 
difficult to play melodies with varied rhythm on 
swinging bells. 

Orchestral bells are merely flat bars of metal 
tuned to scale notes and arranged on a frame so 

Fig, 66. An orchestra of the early fifteenth century 

that when they are tapped they have the sound of 
ringing bells. They are properly called gongs, but 
the bell effects which they produce have caused 
them to be erroneously called bells. They may be 
made of bell metal, steel or aluminum, and tuned to 
several octaves, including all the half-steps, and 

156 BELLS 

arranged in the same manner as the piano keyboard. 
They are played with rubber-tipped mallets. 

Metal bars tuned to the chromatic scale are built 
in modern pipe organs, and arranged to be played 
mechanically. When properly tuned and adjusted, 
they are capable of wonderful harp-like effects. 

Tubular bells, consisting of cylindrical tubes of 
bell metal, have come into use in recent years as 
chimes, to be used both in and out of doors. They 
are usually suspended from a frame, vertically, by 
loops of leather or silk cords, and allowed to swing 
freely. They are struck with hammers, either by 
hand or by some mechanism connected with a clock 
or other movement. They are sometimes made 
nine or ten feet long, with a weight of two hundred 
pounds or more. 

The tubaphone is a smaller form of tubular bells, 
cut in different lengths for the tones of the chro- 
matic scale, and arranged to lie on a padded frame 
instead of being suspended. Like the orchestral 
bells, they may be arranged in piano keyboard form. 
They are played with a rubber hammer. 

Sleigh bells are sometimes tuned to the notes of 
a chord and allowed to jingle for the harmonious 
effect. They maoy be tuned also to the notes of the 
complete scale, and suspended for melody playing. 
Sleigh bells should be shaken, one bell at a time, 
and should not be struck. 

The greatest disadvantage of the bell as a musical 
instrument is the continued vibration of the metal 


after the bell is struck. Without "dampers" to 
stop the vibrations that are no longer desired, the 
sounds become discordant when a rapid succession 
of notes is played. But in spite of this handicap, 
bell music can be made most impressive and agree- 
able to the ear. 

The foregoing discussion refers to bells played 
by hand. Change ringing (by means of ropes) is 
described in a former chapter; chimes (played by 
mechanism) and carillons (played by mechanism or 
keyboard) will be discussed in later chapters. 



There was a time when the sun and moon were 
the only guides which man employed for the measure- 
ment of the divisions of the day and night. The 
sundial was invented to make more exact use of the 
sun's light for this purpose; and later, burning 
candles, burning rope, and, in the hourglass, grains 
of sand were employed to measure definite units 
of time. 

Water was also brought into the service of time 
measurement, and the clepsydra was invented. 
This consisted of vessels which allowed water to 
drip slowly from one to the other. The amount of 
water which dripped from sunrise to sunrise was 
taken as a guide, and this was divided into equal 
parts for the divisions of the day. The clepsydra 
was used by the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, 
and Romans. 

In the early years of the Christian church the day 
was divided into eight equal parts or "canonical 
hours," and bells were rung in the monasteries on 
these hours to call the monks to prayer. The large 
church bells were also made to serve this purpose, 
so that the entire community might be notified of the 
canonical hours. This is, perhaps, the earliest use 
of the bell as a time marker in Christian countries; 



and these bells were, of course, rung by hand, either 
with or without ropes. 

In nearly all European countries there have been 
town criers and night watchmen who went about 
the streets ringing a bell and informing the inhab- 
itants of the passage of time. This custom con- 
tinued, even in some parts of America, until the last 

Clocks driven by weight were invented in Verona 
in the ninth century. As bells had been used before 
this to announce the canonical hours, it was only 
natural that the inventive mind would turn to con- 
necting the weight-driven machinery with a metallic 
ring to announce the hours, and striking clocks 
were developed. 

The oldest tower clock mentioned in England was 
in the former Westminster tower in 1288. Per- 
haps the earliest tower clock with bell-ringing 
mechanism was one made by Peter Lightfoot, a 
monk of Glastonbury, about 1325.1 Connected 
with this clock were automatic figures which struck 
a bell on the hours. These performing figures 
pleased the public, and during the Middle Ages 
many of the town clocks of Europe were provided 
with such figures to ring the hours on bells. They 
were used for proclaiming time long before the intro- 
duction of clock dials. 

The famous clock at Strasburg Cathedral, made 
in the fourteenth century, has (besides a host of 

iW. W. Starmer, in The Clock Jacks of England. 



other mechanical figures) a skeleton-like form of 
Death which strikes the hours on a bell, using a 
human bone for that purpose! And the traveler 

C. Jacobi Eliot 

Fig. 67. Automatic hell-striking figures 
in St. Mark's Piazza, Venice 

in Venice may see, high above the great clock in 
St. Mark's Piazza, two automatic figures ready to 
strike the ponderous bell between them (see Fig. 67). 
In England, the figures which strike bells are 
called ''Jacks." Formerly they were usually repre- 
sented as being clothed in a suit of mail — an idea 
probably borrowed from the sentries in armor who, 
in the Middle Ages, were placed in watch towers to 



give bell alarms when occasion arose. ^ Two such 
figures, striking their bells with swords, are shown 
in Figure 68. 

In time it became the custom to have the Jacks 
strike the quarter hours as well as the hours. ^ This 
made it necessary to have some way of distinguish- 
ing between the hour and the quarter-hour signals; 
so a second bell of different tone was added, their 
tones being, in pitch, either a fourth or a fifth apart. 
Two Jacks also were required, and their combined 
action played a simple ''ding-dong." One "ding- 

r jM 


I' ^ "M 

' ^m 


i W 

' i'^M: 

f}.-: 'W^ 


W"*' 'iK, ' 



^! iK 




Fig. 68. 

Tivo old English Jacks of the Clock, 
Blythhurgh and Southwold 

dong" was played at the first quarter, two at the 
second, and three at the third quarter; but on the 

iW. W. Starmer, in The Clock Jacks of England. 
2They are now frequently called "Quarter Boys." 



hour only one bell announcing that hour was struck. 
Figure 69 represents two armored knights who, 
with their battle axes, used to strike the hours at 
Wells Cathedral. 

The largest and perhaps the best known Jacks 
in England are *'Gog and Magog" at St. Dunstan's 
Lodge in London. Figure 70 shows a group of three 


69. Knights ivho used to strike 
the hours at Wells Cathedral 

figures at Russell's Observatory in Liverpool. The 
large one strikes the hours, and the other two play 
the "ding-dong" at the quarter hours. 

In the seventeenth century a bell called Great 
Tom of Westminster hung in a campanile opposite 
Westminster Hall, London, rang for the hours, A 



Story connected with this bell runs thus: During 
the reign of William and Mary a sentinel at Windsor 
Castle, named James Hadfield, was accused of 
sleeping at his post, a crime which incurred the 

Fig. 70. Clock-striking figures at Russell's 
Observatory, Liverpool 

death penalty. The sentinel insisted that he had 
not slept, and, to prove his wakefulness, asserted that 
he heard the Westminster bell strike for midnight, 
and that it struck thirteen instead of twelve times. 

164 BELLS 

Investigation was made, and his story was verified 
by Londoners. Thus the bell saved the life of the 
sentinel. This story is often given as an instance 
of a bell being heard at a great distance, Windsor 
Castle and Westminster Hall being several miles 

After a time the ' ' ding-dong " quarter bells became 
old-fashioned, and three bells were used to chime 
the quarter hours. These were tuned to the first, 
third, and fifth intervals of the scale. Four is now 
considered the most desirable number of bells for 
clock ringing, for with four bells a definite and 
pleasing tune may be played. 

Clock bells are rung by hammers to which wires 
are attached, these wires being connected with the 
works of the clock. The wires are so arranged that 
they hold the hammer up until, at a certain time, 
the wire is loosened and lets the hammer fall. 

In the case of a large modern tower clock, the 
machinery which operates the clock and its bells is 
very complicated. Figure 71 shows the mechanism 
of a large clock made by Gillett & Johnston of 
Croydon, England. This machinery is in three 
parts. The center section, called the ''going train," 
drives the hands of four ten-foot dials; the section 
on the left side, called the "striking train," strikes 
the hours on a bell weighing one and a half tons; 
the section on the right, called the "quarter train," 
chimes the Westminster Quarters (see music on 
p. 166) on four bells. 



Gillett & Johnston 

Fig. 71. Striking train, going train, and quarter train machinery 

Gillett & Johnston 

Fig. 72. Electric mechanism for striking quarters 






^ # 


First quarter 



# — ^ 

i^i%^,_iL =j= 1^3=^ ^.:|?H«_^=^ : 









Many modern clock bells are rung by electrical 
apparatus. Figure 72 (p. 165) shows an electrical 
mechanism by Gillett & Johnston which chimes the 
Westminster Quarters on four bells. 

Sometimes clock bells are arranged so that they 
may be either swung by ropes and thus rung by 
hand, or rung by the clock mechanism, as one may 

The most famous clock music for four bells is the 
arrangement known as the Cambridge Chimes, so 
called because this melody, with bells tuned to suit 



it, was first used at the University Church of 
vSt. Mary at Cambridge, in 1793. The author of 
the melody was Dr. Crotch, who used a measure 
of the opening symphony of Handel's ''I Know 
that My Redeemer Liveth" as a pattern, and from 

Meneely Bell Foundry 

Fig. 73. A Westminster peal, showing ropes and pulleys 

it evolved the series given on the preceding page. 
For this music the four bells must be tuned to 
numbers one, two, three, and low five of the scale. 
Any set of bells tuned in this order, to play this 
music, is often called a "set of Cambridge chimes" 
or a "Cambridge peal." After their introduction 
in Cambridge they were not duplicated until sixty 
years later, when Sir Edmund Beckett chose to 

l68 BELLS 

have this melody played by the quarter bells of 
the great clock which he was having made for the 
Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. 
Here they took on the name of the Westminster 
Chimes, and are known by both names. Being 
considerably larger than the Cambridge bells, the 
Westminster bells are tuned to play the melody in 
a much lower key. Since that time bells tuned to 
play this music have been used in clock towers of 
different countries, a notable peal being that of 
the Metropolitan Tower in New York.^ Figure 73 
(p. 167) shows a Westminster peal made by the 
Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York. 

In a Cambridge (or Westminster) peal, the hour 
is often struck on the largest of the four bells, just 
after the four phrases of melody have been played. 
This is true in the case of the Metropolitan bells of 
New York. In some cases, however, an extra bell 
is provided to strike the hours, as in the case of the 
Westminster clock. . The large bell*" which strikes 
the hours for this great clock is Big Ben, to whose 
history the next chapter is devoted. 

iSee p. 285. 


Big Ben — the large hour bell which hangs in the 
clock tower of the Houses of Parliament (Fig. 74) — 
is perhaps the most universally known bell of 
modem make. It was first cast on August 6, 1856, 
at the Warner foundry in the village of Norton. 
A report of this event in the London News states : 

"The preparation of the mold had occupied six 
weeks, and two reverberatory furnaces, capable of 

Courtesy of Mentor 

Fig. 74. The Houses of Parliament, showing clock tower 
iThe illustrations. Figs. 75-79, in this chapter are from the London 
News of 1856-58. 


1 70 BELLS 

melting six tons of metal each, had been built 
expressly for the purpose of casting this monster 
bell. . . . The whole of the night previous was a 
scene of busy industry; and early in the morning 
the furnaces [seen to the right in the background 
of Figure 75], having attained the requisite heat, 
their doors were opened, and the operation of charg- 
ing, or putting in the metal, commenced, occupying 
about one hour. In less than two hours and a half, 
the whole of the metal (eighteen tons) was in a state 
of perfect fusion. On the signal being given, the 
furnaces were tapped, and the metal flowed from 
them in two channels into a pool prepared to hold 
it, before being admitted into the bell mold. The 
shutter, or gate, was then lifted, and the metal 
allowed to flow. In five minutes the casting of 
the bell was complete, the successful termination 
of which delighted all present, who cordially joined 
the workmen in three hearty cheers." 

About two weeks later the bell had cooled suffl- 
ciently to be raised from the pit. The following 
inscription appeared on its surface: "Cast in the 
20th year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Vic- 
toria, and in the year of our Lord 1856, from the 
design of Edmund Beckett Denison, Q. C. ; Sir 
Benjamin Hall, Baronet, M. P., Chief Commissioner 
of Works." The bell was named Big Ben in honor 
of Sir Benjamin Hall. 

It was necessary that the bell should be sent by 
train from the foundry to West Hartlepool, where 



Fig. 75. The casting of Big Ben, August 2j, 1856 

Fig. 76. Big Ben being brought from the foundry to the 
Houses of Parliament 



Fig. "]"] . Experiment ivith the hammer upon the great hell 

the boat for London could be employed for its 
further transportation. The bell was so wide that 
it would not admit of other trains passing the car 
which carried it; hence it made the journey by 
special train on a Sunday, when other trains were 
not running and both tracks were free for its passage. 

When the bell reached London it was conveyed 
on a low truck drawn by sixteen horses over West- 
minster Bridge (see Fig. 76, p. 171), and was 
deposited in the Palace Yard, where the crowd was 
so great that the police had great difficulty in 
making a passage for it. 

Figure 77 shows the experiment with a trial ham- 
mer to find out how heavy the striking hammer 



Fig. 78. Breaking up Big Be?i, March 6, 1858 

should be in order to bring the best tone from the 
bell. For some time Big Ben remained in the 
Palace Yard, and important visitors were allowed to 
hear the wondrous sound of its deep voice. 

One day Big Ben suffered an accident. It was 
not able, apparently, to bear up under all the 
strokes of the ponderous hammer, and it cracked, 
even before it was hung ! Some have laid the blame 
on the heaviness of the hammer, some say it was a 
fault in the casting, but it is the more general opinion 
that the metal contained too much tin, and was, 
therefore, too brittle. The crack was located some- 
what as a bicyclist locates a puncture. ''Eight men 
were placed round the bell and carefully watched 

174 BELLS 

its circumference. The sound bow was wetted all 
around, and then the rim of the bell was struck. 
A minute row of tiny bubbles came out, and at once 
indicated the location of the crack. "^ 

Poor Ben then had to be broken up into pieces 
so it could be carted away, and the metal melted 
and cast again. Figure 78 (p. 173) appeared in 
the Illustrated London News with the following 
explanation : 

* 'The process by which the enormous mass of metal 
was reduced to fragments may be told in a few words. 
Ben was simply lowered from the massive frame- 
work which supported him in the corner of the 
Palace Yard, and laid upon his side on the ground. 
In this position the great weight of the head of the 
bell caused it to sink into the earth, so as to leave its 
mouth, instead of being completely vertical, slightly 
inclined upwards, yawning like an enormous cavern. 
From the framework above, an ordinary rope and 
block were fastened, and with them, by the aid of 
a windlass, a ball of iron weighing 24 cwt. was 
hoisted to a height of about 30 feet, and when the 
proper moment arrived, suffered to fall with all its 
weight upon Ben. 

' * The instant the heavy ball reached its appointed 
height, the string was pulled, and down came the 
mass in the inside of Ben's sound bow, and, with a 
crazy bellow, two pieces, one of about a ton and 

lA. A. Johnston, "Clocks, Carillons and Bells," in Journal of the 
Society of Arts, London, 1901. 



Fig. 79. The recasting of Big Ben, April 17, 1858 

one of some thousand pounds, were knocked out of 
his side. After the first blow, the work of destruc- 
tion went on rapidly, piece after piece was broken 
out, till scarcely anything but fragments remained 
of poor Ben, and even these were carted away as 
fast as possible to Messrs. Mears' foundry in White- 

Then began the long process of making another 
mold (for a different foundry undertook the second 
casting), melting the old metal, and recasting it. 
Figure 79 appeared in the London News in April, 

Another journey over Westminster Bridge again 
brought the new bell in great state, drawn by sixteen 

1 76 BELLS 

horses, to the Palace Yard. The problem of lifting 
it to its place in the tower was solved by means of 
a monster windlass and chains forged especially for 
the purpose. The dimensions of the bell are: 
seven and one-half feet in height and nine feet in 
diameter at the mouth; weight, thirteen tons, ten 
hundred weight, three quarters, and fifteen pounds, 
or thirteen tons and 1,765 pounds. 

At the time of the second casting an attempt 
was made to call the bell "Victoria," and later 
''St. Stephen," but the public would have nothing 
but "Big Ben," so the old name prevailed. 

But an ill fate seems to have kept Big Ben from 
being perfect. After the clock had struck on Ben 
for a few months, some small cracks appeared on 
the outside of the sound bow, opposite the place 
where the hammer struck. A bit of metal was cut 
from the crack and analyzed, and the casting was 
pronounced defective, as it was porous and unhomo- 
geneous. The Board of Works stopped the use of 
it for two or three years ; but so much confusion was 
caused by striking the hours on one of the quarter 
bells, that the striking of Big Ben was allowed to be 
resumed with a lighter hammer (in November, 1863), 
and the bell was turned a quarter round on the but- 
ton, or mushroom head, by which it was hung, so the 
striking hammer would fall in a different place. The 
cracks do not seem to get deeper, and many consider 
that they do not seriously affect the tone of the 
bell. However, its "ring" is not perfect, and its 


tone seems harsh to those whose ears are accus- 
tomed to the ringing of more deHcately tuned bells. 
It is a pity that the bell is not as fine as it is 

In the spring of 1925 the sound of Big Ben was 
heard in New York for the first time, by radio, as 
it struck the midnight hour. 



When the enterprising burglar's not a-burgHng, 
When the cutthroat isn't occupied in crime, 

He loves to hear the little brook a-gurgling, 
And listen to the merry village chime. 

— W. S. Gilbert 

Any set of bells tuned in definite relation to each 
other is called a ''ring." A ring of bells may be 
a swinging peal sounded by their own clappers when 
swung, or a set of stationary bells rung either by 
hammers or by clappers. In a swinging peal a 
separate ringer is usually employed for each bell, 
as in change ringing. ^ Some hymns and slow melo- 
dies may be played by a band of ringers under the 
direction of a leader, but this is very unsatisfactory 
unless the rhythm is steady. Varied rhythms are 
not attempted in change ringing. When definite 
melodies are played, stationary bells are usually 
employed. Bells are often hung so that they may 
be either swung or tapped, and have both inside 
clappers and outside hammers. 

The word ''chimes" has been used indiscrimi- 
nately to denote any kind of tune-playing bells. In 
its proper sense, however, it is understood to mean a 
set of stationary bells, three to twelve or fifteen in number, 

iSee p. 127. 




tuned to major scale intervals. A ring which consists 
of more bells, and those tuned to chromatic inter- 
vals, or half-steps, is properly called a ''carillon"^ 
Playing on bells for musical effects, as contrasted 
with the practical uses of bells, is called the "art 


Meneely Bell Foundry 

Chime-ringings levers 


of campanology" — whether the bells are struck by 
hand, struck by machinery, or pulled over by ropes. 

Chimes may be played by means of levers or some 
kind of apparatus for hand chiming ; or they may be 
operated automatically, as in the case of clock bells. 

Figure 80 shows a set of levers for ringing chimes 
by hand. These levers are attached to wires which 

iSee next chapter. 



extend to the belfry, pass over pulleys, and control 
the hammers of the bells. Figure 8i shows a set 
of chimes^ to be rung by pressing levers as shown 
in Figure 80. These bells have double clappers, to 


Meneely Bell Foundry 

Bells rung by the levers shown in Figure 80 

which the wires are attached. The pulleys guiding the 
wires may be plainly seen. The largest bell, mounted 
also with a wheel and rope, can be swung whenever 
it is required for the ordinary uses of a church bell. 
The clock bell which first struck the hours was 
the ancestor of our present automatic chimes. The 

iMade by Meneely Bell Company of Troy, N.Y. 



invention, which at first served only a useful purpose 
in announcing the hours, was gradually developed 
into a musical as well as a practical instrument. 
The ''ding-dong" of two bells was increased to 
three tones of the major chord, and was played with 
pleasing effect on three bells. Or perhaps the bells 
were tuned to the first three or four tones of the 
scale. A simple tune, such as ''Hot-Cross Buns," 
may be played on three bells. Below is an old 
Canterbury tune called "The Voice of the Bells," 
taken from an ancient psalmody; it is to be played 
on four bells: 







When will ye to the tern - pie come, 




f\ 'n I 

bless - ed 


chil - 




V ft 


^ rz> 

f^ \ 

(r\ <^ 

^ rD 




-1 — 


To give the lyord His hon - or due, 





With rev - er - ence and fear? 



An old Scotch Psalter of 1 6 1 5 contains the follow- 
ing tune to be played on five bells: 






The great - er sort crave world-ly goods, 



And rich - es 


em - brace; 




But, Lord, grant us Thy coun - te - nance. 




fa - vor and Thy grace. 

It will be seen that in three places a little harmony 
is permitted. The famous ''Turn Again Whit- 
tington"^ was played on six bells. 

Chimes with set tunes may be played by the 
machinery connected with a clock in the same way 
that ''quarters" are rung. When a tune requiring 
a considerable number of bells is played, an extra 
piece of mechanism is usually used, consisting of 
an extra train of wheels, and a "chime barrel" with 

iSee p. 261. 


pegs. A chime barrel is a cylinder with rows of 
holes running lengthwise of the cylinder. Each 
row consists of as many holes as there are wires con- 
nected with bells. Pegs are placed in these holes, 
and as the barrel turns, these pegs strike wires which 
























Fig. 82. Pegs set for the first phrase of " Suwanee River" 

cause certain hammers to fall upon the bells. The 
tune is ''set" beforehand by arranging the pegs in 
a certain order; and when the time (which has also 
been set in the clock machinery) arrives, the barrel 
begins to turn, the pegs begin to touch wire con- 
nections, and the bells begin to ring. Suppose one 



wanted to set the barrel to play "Suwanee River" 
on eight bells when the clock reached a certain time. 
For the first two measures the pegs would be ar- 
ranged in the holes somewhat as shown on page 183. 
As the barrel turns in the direction indicated by the 
arrows, bell number 3 will be the first one struck, 
the hammer being released by the peg marked %. 
As the melody requires that this shall be a long note, 
three rows of holes are passed before another peg 
is reached; then come five in quick succession, 
ringing bells number 2 , i , 3 , 2 , i ; one row of holes 
passes, and then bell number 8 is rung; and so on. 

Thus it is easily seen how one may set as many 
tunes as the barrel can accommodate ; and the tunes 
may be changed as often as one wishes to change 
the pegs. 

The chiming apparatus as described above is said 
to have been invented in the Netherlands in the 
fifteenth century, and Belgium claims to have had 
melody-ringing chimes even earlier. Some kind 
of chiming machinery was also used in England 
during that century, for an Englishman, John Baret, 
who died in 1463, left in his will a provision that the 
sexton of St. Mary's Church was to be paid ''xij d. 
per annum so he will ring and find bread and ale 
to his fellowship . . . and so he do the chimes 
smite Requiem Eternam; also viij s. to keep the 
clock, take heed to the chimes, wind up the pegs 
and the plummets as often as need be."^ 

iH. B. Walters, in The Church Bells, of England. 


Various European countries adopted automatic 
chimes during the centuries that followed, and their 
use has been most marked in the Netherlands and 
in Belgium, where the more elaborate carillon was 

The most modern method of automatic chiming. 

hP^ ^ 

r , . . . „y \.*^- ,£y^viMi 




John Taylor & Co. 

Fig. 83. Chime of twelve hells at the University of California 

both in melody playing and in ringing the clock 
quarters, is by electricity. 

Chimes of six, eight, ten, and twelve bells may be 
found in various parts of the world, especially in 
Europe and America; and even so far away as 
Australia. Some are rung automatically, but many 
are rung by hand levers. Eight is the most popular 
number of bells in a chime, and these are tuned to 
the tones of the major scale. Figure d>2^ shows a 
ring of twelve bells made by an English foundry 

iSee next chapter. 


(Taylor of Loughborough) for the University of 

Some of the finest chimes in the world hang in 
English cathedrals. Exeter Cathedral has a very 
fine ring of ten bells. The ring of twelve bells in 
Worcester is said to be the grandest peal in England. 
Peals of twelve are also found at York Minster, 
St. Mary-le-Bow, St. Paul's Cathedral, and other 

Year by year chimes are becoming more numerous 
in America also,' being supplied not only by the 
English foundries at Croydon and Loughborough, 
but also made in this country by the Meneely Bell 
Company of Troy, New York, the Cincinnati Bell 
Foundry, and other foundries. 



A fine carillon is the highest point yet reached in 
the evolution of bell instruments. The single bell, 
the clock chime, the swinging peal, musical hand 
bells, and the stationary chime — each class has its 
appeal and its definite use. Almost any musical 
person, with a little training, can ^o justice to any 
of the above instruments; but the carillon, to be 
properly heard, must be played by an artist. 

''Carillon" is a French word meaning a series of 
bells played by mechanism. In reality the carillon 
is a highly developed and elaborated chime. The 
underlying principles are the same, and both chime 
and carillon may be pla3^ed either automatically 
or by hand-directed mechanism. The_difference 
between a carillon and a chime is in the number 
of bells, the tuning of them, and the arrangement 
of the keyboard. For simple melody playing, the 
chime has, usually, eight to twelve bells tuned to 
the major scale; the carillon has at least two octaves 
(often four octaves), with all the sharps and flats, 
suited for complicated harmonies as well as for 
melodies. Chiming levers are arranged in a row; 
the carillon keyboard in four rows, two rows for 
the hands and two for the feet. Carillon bells must 
be tuned with greater care and scientific accuracy 


1 88 





: ^B ^^^^^H 

1^1^^^^ HP^WSiBP^^^^ 





i H'Blal 

^^^BL ^wE 

^ ** ^^^hHBI^mPI^. 


11 in 



HBJS^H^r .*^ 


■ • '^i^----^ •^C: ..^w^ 



^C^^^^K^ J9 





W. G. Rice 

Fig. 84. The drum of the Bruges carillon, showmg 
pegs for automatic playing 

than is demanded of chime bells, for imperfect 
overtones destroy the harmony when several bells 
are struck at once. A bell may sound in tune when 
played in a chime, but when combined with other 
bells in a carillon it would cause jangling discord if 
its own overtones were imperfect and the bell not 
completely ''in tune with itself" as well as with 
the other bells. So the chime and the carillon, 
although so closely akin, are vastly different. 

The automatic carillon plays music which is set 
on a barrel in the same manner as the tunes are set 
on the chime barrel described on page 184. It is 
called the tambour (barrel) carillon. Formerly the 
barrel was made of wood, but in modern times it 


is made of metal, and, like the simpler chime barrel, 
is punctured with rows of holes. Little spikes are 
fitted into these holes (according to the music to be 
played) which make the barrel resemble the cylinder 
of a mammoth music box (see Fig. 84). In a music 
box the spikes flip little tongues of metal which 
make musical sounds. In the tambour carillon each 
spike lifts a tongue which pulls a wire connected 
with a hammer, raises the hammer, and lets it fall 
on a bell. Some bells have as many as half a dozen 
hammers, each hammer supplied with a separate 
wire, to be used when one bell is to be struck several 
times in rapid succession. The spikes, or pegs, are 
set to play as complicated music as desired, and the 
barrel is connected with the clock, so that, at certain 
fixed times, the music plays automatically. A 
carillon machine is shown in Figure 85 (p. 190) . This 
mechanism is usually set to play just before the stroke 
of the hour, and at the half and quarter hours. 

The other kind of mechanism allows the bells to 
be played by means of a keyboard. A series of large 
wooden keys is arranged in the order of a piano 
keyboard. Each key is connected with a bell by 
means of a wire which raises a hammer and makes 
it strike the bell from the inside, when the key is 
pressed down. By this mechanism nothing is 
"set," and the performer plays whatever he chooses. 
This kind is called the clavier (keyboard) carillon. 
It has been called a ''piano which plays bells instead 
of strings." The largest bells are usually connected 

I go 


with a pedal keyboard, and the performer who 
uses both feet and both hands skillfully may play 
very intricate music. The keys, too large and 
heavy to be pressed down with one finger, are 
usually played by blows with the gloved fists. Some- 

Gillett & Johnston 

Fig. 85. A carillon machine 

times, however, the thumb and middle finger can 
press down two keys at once. Figure 86 shows a 
front view of the keyboard of a carillon in Morris- 
town, New Jersey. The pedal keys show clearly 
the arrangement like piano keys. The musician 
who plays a clavier carillon is called a carillonneur. 



Photograph by Curtiss 

Fig. 86. The keyboard of the Morristown, New Jersey, carillon 

192 BELLS 

Many carillons are provided with both kinds of 
mechanism, one connected with the clock and the 
other for artists' concerts. They do not interfere, 
as one is arranged to strike from the inside of the 
bells and the other from the outside. 

In a carillon of the first order — one having three 
or four octaves of bells — the sizes of the bells vary 
all the way from huge ones weighing several tons 
down to small ones weighing not over ten or fifteen 
pounds. In Belgium the bells are always hung in 
tiers, while in Holland they are often arranged in cir- 
cles. See Figure Sj, showing the arrangement of the 
bells in tiers in Notre Dame Cathedral in Antwerp. 

The carillon is developed to the greatest degree of 
perfection in Belgium and Holland. Very fine 
ones are found, however, in Germany and France, 
and to some extent in a few other countries. ' ' When 
John V of Portugal visited the Netherlands, about 
1730, he was so delighted with the bell music 
that he determined to have a carillon for his sump- 
tuous palace then being built. The price having been 
ascertained (it appears to have been something like 
$43,000 for the completed carillon put in place), 
the suggestion was guardedly made by his treasurer 
that, in view of the financial burdens upon the 
king's purse, this was a large expenditure. The 
implied criticism is said to have so offended the 
self-esteem of the monarch that he replied: *I 
did not think it would be so cheap; I wish two.' 
And these he got, for two carillons of forty-eight 



bells each, played by clavier and clockwork, existed 
a few years ago, and, so far as I know," says 
Mr. Rice,^ "still exist in the twin towers of the con- 
vent, formerly the palace chapel, at Mafra." 

For some reason carillons have not been heard in 
England to any great extent until quite recently, 

Fig. 87. The arrangement of the carillon of Notre Dame 
Cathedral, Antwerp 

even though England has long been called ''the 
Ringing Isle." This may be because the English 

iW. G. Rice, in the Musical Quarterly for April, 191 5. 

194 BELLS 

have found their change ringing so satisfying. 
Starmer, the foremost EngHsh bell authority, is 
still loyal to the swinging peal. The music from 
a peal of bells is louder than the music of the carillon. 
In the former there is an intense blow as the bell 
swings against the clapper; but in the carillon the 
hammer strikes the bell from a very short distance — 
one-quarter of an inch — and consequently there 
is less volume of sound at any time. 

The carillon is particularly suited to fiat countries 
such as Holland and Belgium, where the bell sounds 
travel with more effect and at far greater distances 
than in hilly countries, where the sound is closed in, 
interrupted, and echoed back. Mr. Rice gives the 
following as the probable course of the carillon's 
development in those countries i^ "In Holland and 
Belgium in the distant years when clocks and watches 
were more rare than now, and the people were much 
more dependent upon the town clock for knowledge 
of the time of day or night, it became the custom 
to precede the striking of the hour by a short, auto- 
matic chiming on three or four small bells in the 
clock tower, as a premonitory signal. As this and 
that town sought to surpass its neighbors, the bells 
were increased in number, and the musical scale of 
tones and half-tones became complete. Brief melo- 
dies began to be heard at the hour and half-hour, 
and with still more bells, came, at these divisions, 
whole tunes. All this playing was automatic. 

iThe standard authority on carillons is W. G. Rice's Carillons of 
Belgium and Holland, from which a large part of the material in this 
and the following chapter has been obtained. 


"Then came the point of greatest advance. The 
keyboard was just beginning to be used with stringed 
instruments. What was more natural than that 
bells should have their keyboard, or clavier, and so 
be made ready to respond to the art of the aspiring 
musician? Soon pedals were employed with the 
heavier bells. By these improvements, rapid and 
quite complicated playing was possible, and almost 
any composition could be fairly interpreted by a 
skillful executant, and so regular carillon recitals 
or concerts came into being. 

"Thus in the course of two or three centuries 
was developed a carillon, a musical instrument of 
distinct characteristics, and possessing wide possi- 
bilities for community service. Not only did the 
carillon have, by automatic play, constant com- 
panionship with time, but beyond this, the master 
of its clavier could make the town council meeting 
hour enjoyable, and the market (ever a feature of 
the life of the Low Countries) additionally gay for 
old and young. 

' ' Carillon recitals which the traveler often hears in 
Belgium and Holland take place at a fixed time on the 
market day, and on each Sunday, and in the greater 
cities on some regular weekday evening in summer. 
The latter are called 'program concerts.' The 
carillon recitals of this kind are announced by widely 
distributed posters; and the music to be given and 
the carillonneurs who are to play are announced 
months in advance by means of elaborately printed 
and illustrated booklets. 

196 BELLS 

''The carillon is indeed a very beautiful and 
majestic musical instrument. Only those who have 
heard Chopin's Funeral March on this instrument 
can conceive how impressive that music can be. 
The carillon can reach, instruct, and give joy to 
thousands assembled out of doors, and in this it 
surpasses any other instrument." 

A Belgian writer of the nineteenth century (Van 
der Straeton) says: "A good bell is not made by 
chance, but is the result of a wise combination of 
qualities and thought, and a fine carillon is as pre- 
cious as a violin by Stradivarius." 

Starmer^ also agrees that ''the carillon with its 
clavier is the finest musical instrument in existence 
for educating the people and cultivating their love 
for folk songs, and in teaching them the great 
melodies of their fatherland; for the music best 
suited to the carillon — excepting music specially 
written for that instrument — includes the folk 
music which has successfully stood the test of time." 

The most famous makers of carillons in the olden 
days were Franz Hemony (159 7- 1667) and Pieter 
Hemony (16 19-1680) of Lorraine; Pieter van den 
Gheyn of Holland and others of his family, dating 
back to the middle of the sixteenth century and 
covering several generations. The Dumery family 
of Antwerp is also famous as makers of carillons, 
besides many others. The founders of the present 
day who make carillons are Felix van Aerschodt of 

iW. W. Starmer, in The Musical Standard for Feb. i6, 1918. 



Fig. 88. A carillon of former days 


Louvain (the representative of tne van den Gheyns) , 
John Taylor of Loughborough, England, and Gillett 
& Johnston of Croydon, England. According to 
Rice, "the Hemonys, the van den Gheyns and the 
Dumerys were the great founders of former times. 
Hemony's bells, generally speaking, are the best; 
they are bright, clear, and true — epic in character. 
Van den Gheyn's bells are similar. Dumery's are 
velvety, soft, and true — elegiac in character. . . . 
Carillons today by makers such as van Aerschodt at 
Louvain and Taylor at Loughborough are even more 
perfect than those of former times." 

Every prosperous community of Belgium in the 
early days had a belfry crowned with a carillon. 
The community felt, and still feels, such a deep 
interest in its carillon that no matter where it is 
placed the bells belong to the town, and the bell 
master is a municipal officer. ^ Perhaps one reason 
the carillon is so beloved by the town is because it 
is so democratic, and can be enjoyed by the whole 
town at once, the rich and the poor, and with no 
one having to take the trouble to go to any particular 
spot to hear it. For this reason bell music has been 
often called "the poor man's music." 

The carillon seems especially fitting as an instru- 
ment for the celebration of national feelings, both 
as reminders on anniversaries or as giving expression 
to national emotion; but, better still, "it sends out 
from its aerial heights an influence which lightens 

iW. G. Rice, in Carillons of Belgium and Holland. 


routine, and to happy occupation adds enchanting 
accompaniment. ' ' 

An Englishman^ who was cruising in a fishing 
boat off the coast of Holland heard a carillon for 
the first time. He writes: ''I guessed that a living 
artist, not a mechanical contrivance, was making 
music — music as magical as it was majestical — in 
his far-off unseen tower across the moonlit levels of 
the still sea, and the low-lying shore hidden by 
fog-drifts. I think now (but am not sure) that it 
came from the belfry of Gouda. At the time, I 
thought it was music from the moon which the 
moonlight made audible, so strange and other- 
worldly were its fugal cadences, flight after flight 
of prismatic sounds." 

Musical melodies floating down through the air 
from a high tower, with an invisible performer, can 
hardly help lifting the thoughts of men above sordid 
things, and must play a definite part in the molding 
of character. A graduate of Delft wrote from a 
foreign land, says Mr. Rice, of his ''many memories 
of enchanting music heard unexpectedly in the 
stillness of a winter night. Many a night my friend 
and I, on our walks through the quiet snow-covered 
city, have stood still and listened, and had our whole 
trend of thought changed and lifted by this wonderful 

2E. B. Osborn. 




Belgium is the home of the most celebrated caril- 
lons in the world, there being at least thirty impor- 
tant ones in that small country. Holland has about 
twenty. All together, there are more than a hun- 
dred carillons in Belgium and Holland, and until 
recently there were perhaps not that many in all 
the rest of the world combined. 

The Bruges carillon is, of all bells, the most cele- 
brated in verse. The bell tower is shown in Fig- 
ure 89. In 1842 Longfellow visited Bruges, and his 
diary at that time foreshadows his now well-known 
poems, "Carillon" and "The Belfry of Bruges." 
These poems are given on pages 416 and 419. The 
diary states: 

''May JO. In the evening took the railway from 
Ghent to Bruges. ... It was not yet night; and 
I strolled through the fine old streets and felt myself 
a hundred years old. The chimes seemed to be 
ringing incessantly; and the air of repose and 
antiquity was delightful. . . . Oh, those chimes, 
those chimes! how deliciously they lull one to 
sleep! The little bells, with their clear, liquid 
notes, like the voices of boys in a choir, and the 
solemn bass of the great bell tolling in, like the 
voice of a friar! 






Fig. 89. TJie bell toiver of Bruges, Belgium 



Fig. 90. St. Romhold's Tower, Alalines {Mechlin), Belgium 


''May ji. Rose before five and climbed the high 
belfry which was once crowned by the gilded copper 
dragon now at Ghent. The carillon of forty-eight 
bells ; the little chamber in the tower ; the machinery, 
like a huge barrel-organ, with keys like a musical 
instrument for the carillonneur ; the view from the 
tower; the singing of swallows with the chimes; the 
fresh morning air; the mist in the horizon; the red 
roofs far below; the canal, like a silver clasp, linking 
the city with the sea, — how much to remember!" 

The first Bruges carillon, consisting of thirty-eight 
bells, was made in 1662 by Franz Hemony. This 
was destroyed in 1741. Two years later the present 
carillon of forty-seven bells was made by Joris 
Dumery of Antwerp. The drum for automatic 
playing is seen in Figure 84.^ 

The Mechlin carillon in St. Rombold's Tower 
(see Fig. 90) has had the reputation for many years 
past of being the finest in the world. It consists of 
forty-five bells, made at various times, the oldest 
one dating back to 1480. There are several Hemony 
bells of the seventeenth century, some of the 
eighteenth century made by A. van den Gheyn, and 
others by makers of less renown. The largest bell 
is ' ' Salvator, ' ' weighing nearly nine tons, and until 
recently the heaviest bell in any carillon. The bells 
hang two hundred feet from the ground. 

During the French Revolution this carillon was 
saved from destruction by the diplomacy of Gerard 

^See p. 188. 

204 BELLS 

Gommaire Haverals, the carillonneur at the time. 
''The revokitionary council had decreed that the 
MechHn bells should be melted and made into 
cannon, when Haverals by his eloquence and clever- 
ness persuaded the French authorities that one 
carillon should be preserved. Otherwise, he asked, 
how properly could be celebrated 'la gloire de la 
republique'? A few years later the reaction came, 
and he was given a sharp reprimand by the town 
council because of the republican songs he had 
played. His beloved bells, though, were safe, and 
so again he changed his tunes to suit changed times 
and endured patiently the municipal castigation. 
Happily his devotion and skill were so compelling 
that even political passions were subdued and he 
continued as carillonneur imtil he died in 1841, 
being on the verge of fourscore years, and having 
played bells in St. Rombold's Tower continuously 
since he was seventeen."^ 

The drum for mechanical playing (see Fig. 84), 
made nearly two hundred years ago, is of gun metal, 
five feet three inches in diameter, and has one hun- 
dred and eighty longitudinal rows of holes. It is 
wound twice a day, and about sixty thousand notes 
are played by this drum every twenty-four hours. 

But the daily mechanical playing of the Mechlin 
bells is not their chief glory. The concerts of the 
renowned carillonneur, Joseph Denyn, are without 
equal in the world. At Mechlin, under the direction 

iW. G. Rice. 


of Mr. Denyn, is the only existing school for carillon 
playing, founded in 1922. One of Denyn's concerts 
has been thus described by Mr. Rice: 

''After the bell ceased striking (the hour), and the 
vibration of its deep and solemn tone had died away, 
there was silence. So long a silence it seemed, so 
absolute, that we wondered if it was to be broken. 
Then pianissimo, from the highest, Hghtest bells, 
as if not to startle us, and from far, far above the 
to^ver, it seemed — indeed as if very gently shaken 
from the sky itself — came trills and runs that were 
angelic ! Rapidly they grew in volume and majesty 
as they descended the scale until the entire heaven 
seemed full of music. Seated in the garden we 
watched the little light in the tower, where we knew 
the unseen carillonneur sat at his clavier and drew 
the music from his keys, and yet as we watched and 
listened, we somehow felt that the music came from 
somewhere far beyond the tower, far higher than 
that dim light, and was produced by superhuman 
hands. Sometimes in winter after icicles have 
formed, there comes a thaw, and one by one they 
tinkle down, gently and timidly at first ; then bolder 
in a mass they come till, like an avalanche, they 
crash down with a mighty roar. All of this the 
music suggested. It was low, it was loud; it was 
from one bell, it was from chords of many bells; 
it was majestic, it was simple. And every note 
seemed to fall from above, from such heights that 
the whole land heard its beauty. It was as if a 

2o6 BELLS 

great master had said: *I am no longer content 
to sit at my cathedral organ and give pleasure to a 
few hundreds only; I must give joy to thousands/ 
So he mounts the cathedral tower, and plays his 
sonata, or his prelude, or his songs upon the great 
clavier, so that all the world may hear. With 
this feeling we listened that evening to van den 
Gheyn's Prelude and to the Andante and Allegro 
from Rossini's 'Barbier de Seville,' and to old Bel- 
gian and French folk songs. Here was no pretty 
cleverness, but a splendid masterhand ringing out 
from his mighty instrument not alone grand, sub- 
lime effects, but also the tenderest shades of feeling 
that awaken both memory and aspiration. Indeed, 
the tower seemed a living being, opening its lips in 
the mysterious night to pour out a great and noble 
message of song to all mankind. 

*'As the hour passed, daylight died, but the tower 
grew more distinct in the light of the full moon rising 
over the trees. We had programs which we passed 
in silence to one another, and if there was occasion 
to speak, we spoke in whispers. It seemed that if 
we moved or spoke aloud, the tower, the far-away 
light, and the music might all vanish. Nothing we 
had ever experienced had been like this. Sometimes 
the sounds were so low that we found ourselves bend- 
ing forward to hear them. They seemed to come 
from an infinite distance, so faint and delicate were 
they. Then at other times, great chords, in the 
volume of many organs, burst forth rapturously! 


"The concert ended promptly at nine with the 
national air of Belgium. Directly after this the 
great bell slowly, solemnly struck the hour." 

In spealdng of Mr. Denyn's concerts, an English 
gentleman^ writes: *'It was surprising to see how 
attentively the audience followed this concert in 
the sky. The vast majority had to stand the entire 
time, and they stood motionless, speaking not a 
word, and not even clicking their wooden shoes 
until the tower had ceased singing. The people of 
Mechlin and its trim countryside take so great a 
pride in their vast singing tower that one can easily 
understand why they ran to put out a fire when the 
red harvest moon shone through the great open 
windows of the bell loft. 

''If that tower had been finished according to the 
original plan, it would have been the loftiest in the 
world. But the stone for completing it was carted 
off into Holland between 1582 and 1584 to build 
the fortress town of Willemstad. The theft has 
never been forgotten nor forgiven. Yet the tower 
is well enough as it is ; Vauban calls it the eighth 
wonder of the world. And to the people of Belgium 
it is more than that, for they see in it a fixed fore- 
finger of their elder faith, an upright scroll of 
national history, and a leaping fountain of many- 
colored music." 

The Antwerp Cathedral is famous for its beauty 
of form and line (see Fig. 91). Napoleon compared 

lE. B. Osbom, in The Nineteenth Century and After. 

208 BELLS 

the tower to Mechlin lace. The cathedral carillon 
consists of forty-seven bells, thirty-six made by 
Hemony in the seventeenth century, and others by 
Dumery and Aerschodt. The largest bell was cast 
in 1459, and it is said that Emperor Charles V stood 
sponsor at its baptism. Mr. Brees is the well-known 
carillonneur. In the cathedral tower is another 
carillon of twenty-six bells, made in the seventeenth 
century, but these bells are not now used. 

In the Ghent carillon are fifty-two bells, four and 
a half octaves. The largest of these is Roland, 
one of Europe's most famous bells, dating back to 
13 14 (see p. 239). The smallest bell of the Ghent 
carillon is only eight inches high. 

Many of the injured carillons of Belgium and 
French Flanders are being restored and others are 
to be built. A fine carillon, housed in a magnificent 
tower, is planned for the new library at Louvain. 

The carillon of Middelburg, Holland, consists of 
forty-three bells, made in the eighteenth century. 
William G. Rice designates this carillon as "among 
the best and much the busiest of carillons. It 
plays for nearly two minutes before the hour, a 
minute before the half, a few measures at the quar- 
ters, and some notes every seven and a half minutes, 
besides a warning ripple before each quarter hour. 
The butter and egg market place, crowded with 
peasants in costume at the market hour (Thursday 
noon), is perhaps the most interesting place to hear 
the bells. They blend with the activity of the 



Pig. 91. The spire of Antwerp Cathedral 

W. G. Rice 



^^^ ■ "^F* ' 1 '^ " ■ 'USB 


William Thompson 

Fig. 92. "Boston Stump," St. BotolpWs Cathedral, 
Boston, England 


marketing most agreeably." A graceful compli- 
ment was paid to these busy bells when Lucas said: 
*'One cannot say more for persistent chimes than 
this, — at Middelburg it is no misfortune to wake 
in the night!" 

Amsterdam has five Hemony carillons, all hung 
in circles in as many towers, and the bells may be 
seen from the street. 

Delft has a Hemony carillon of forty bells in the 
tower of Nieuwe Kerk, 375 feet high. Utrecht has 
forty-two bells, most of them of Hemony's make. 

In the Rotterdam Town Hall is a fine carillon of 
forty-nine bells recently cast by Taylor, the English 
founder. They are said to be perfectly in tune, 
accurate to a single vibration per second. The 
Taylor foundry has also made carillons for several 
other towns in Holland. 

Germany has several carillons, those of north 
Germany being especially fine. Belgium's neighbor, 
France, also has had good carillons for a long time. 

The first carillon in England was hung in the 
celebrated ''Boston Stump" in 1868. This is a 
picturesque church tower 365 feet high on the 
Lincolnshire shore, facing the North Sea (see Fig. 92) . 
The carillon consisted of forty-four bells, founded 
by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon. 

In the War Memorial Campanile in Loughbor- 
ough, England (see Fig. 93, p. 212), a carillon of 
forty-seven bells, cast at the Taylor foundry, was 
installed in 1923 in memory of those who fell in the 



World War. There is also a carillon of forty-two 
small and perfectly tuned bells in the tower of the 
Taylor foundry (see Fig. 94). This foundry has also 

John Taylor & Co, 

Fig. 93. War Memorial carillon tower, 
Loughborough, England 

made carillons for Cobh (Queenstown) , Ireland 
(forty-two bells, shown in Fig. 95, p. 214); Armagh, 
Ireland (thirty-nine bells) ; Flushing, Holland (thirty- 
three bells) ; Parkgate, Cheshire (thirty-seven bells) ; 
Boumville, Birmingham (thirty-seven bells), and 
Capetown, South Africa (thirty-seven bells). 



A carillon recently made by Gillett & Johnston 
for Toronto, Canada, consists of twenty-three bells. 
A weight-driven tower-clock movement chimes the 
Cambridge Quarters and strikes the hours, and, 
after the last stroke of each hour, releases the start- 
ing switch of an automatic electro-pneumatic 

Fig. 94. Carillon tower, John Taylor &" Company 
hell foundry at Loughborough, England 

machine, which then plays some well-known air; 
and in addition there is the hand clavier for the 



John Taylor & Co. 

Fig. 95. Carillon at Cobh {Queen stown) , Ireland 
The largest hell weighs 6,772 pounds 

Not until recently have carillons been known in 
America. In the past few years several have been 
installed in various parts of the country, and a 
remarkably fine carillon was made for New York 
by the Croydon founders in 1925 (see p. 289). 

The popularity of this instrument is growing so 
rapidly, in all parts of the world, that any complete 
list of important carillons would in a few years be 
out of date. 




More than a hundred and fifty years ago 
Dr. Charles Bumey, a learned English authority on 
music, made a tour through the Netherlands and 
other countries to collect material for a general his- 
tory of music. This History of Music was, by the 
way, the first ever written by an Englishman, was 
very complete up to that time, and is still considered 
a work of great value. In 1775 Dr. Burney pub- 
lished in London a book called The Present State of 
Music in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United 
Provinces, and his impressions of the carillon, as 
given in this book, are so interesting and amusing 
that they seem worth quoting in their entirety : 

''When I came to Ghent, I determined to inform 
m^^self in a particular manner concerning the carillon 
science. For this purpose I mounted the town bel- 
fry, from whence I had a full view of the city of 
Ghent, which is reckoned one of the largest in 
Europe; and here I had not only an opportunity 
of examining the mechanism of the chimes, as far 
as they are played by clock-work, but could likewise 
see the carillonneur perform with a kind of keys 
communicating with bells, as those of the harpsi- 
chord and organ do with strings and pipes. 


2i6 BELLS 

*'I soon saw that the chimes in these countries 
had a greater number of bells than those of the 
largest peals in England; but when I mounted the 
belfry I was astonished at the great quantity of 
bells I saw; in short, there is a complete series or 
scale of tones and semi-tones like those on the 
harpsichord and organ. The carillonneur was liter- 
ally at work, and hard work indeed it must be. He 
was in his shirt with his collar unbuttoned, and in 
a violent sweat. There are pedals communicating 
with the great bells, upon which, with his feet, he 
played the bass to ^several sprightly and rather 
difficult airs performed with his two hands upon the 
upper species of keys. 

''These keys are projecting sticks, wide enough 
asunder to be struck with violence and velocity by 
either of the two hands edgeways, without the 
danger of hitting the neighboring keys. The player 
has a thick leather covering for the little finger of 
each hand, otherwise it would be impossible for him 
to support the pain which the violence of the stroke 
necessary to be given to each key, in order to its 
being distinctly heard throughout a very large town, 

* ' The carillons are said to be originally from Alost, 
in this country, and are still here and in Holland, 
in their greatest perfection. It is certainly a Gothic 
invention, and perhaps a barbarous taste which 
neither the French, the English nor the Italians 
have imitated or encouraged. The carillonneur at 


my request played several pieces very dexterously 
in three parts, the first and second treble with the 
two hands on the upper set of keys, and the bass 
with the feet on the pedals. 

" . . . As to the clock-work chimes, or those 
worked by a barrel, nothing, to my thinking, can 
be more tiresome; for night and day, to hear the 
same tune played every hour during six months, 
in such a stiff and unalterable manner, requires that 
kind of patience which nothing but a total absence 
of taste can produce. . . , 

''In Amsterdam. At noon I attended M. Pothoff 
(organist), who is not young, and totally blind, to 
the tower of the Stad-huys or town-house, of which 
he is carillonneur; it is a drudgery unworthy of such 
a genius; he has had this employment, however, 
many years, having been elected to it at thirteen. 
He had very much astonished me on the organ, 
after all that I had heard in the rest of Europe; 
but in playing those bells, his amazing dexterity 
raised my wonder much higher ; for he executed with 
his two hands, passages that would be very difficult 
to play with the ten fingers; shakes, beats, swift 
divisions, triplets, and even arpeggios he has con- 
trived to vanquish. 

"He began with a psalm tune, with which their 
High Mightinesses are chiefly delighted, and which 
they require at his hands whenever he performs, 
which is on Tuesdays and Fridays. He next played 
variations upon a psalm tune, with great fancy and 

2l8 BELLS 

even taste. When he had performed this task he 
was so obhging as to play a quarter of an hour 
extempore in such a manner as he thought would be 
more agreeable to me than psalmody; and in this 
he succeeded so well, that I sometimes forgot both 
the difficulty and defects of the instrument. He 
never played in less than three parts, marking the 
bass and the measure constantly with the pedals. 
I never heard a greater variety of passages in so 
short a time; he produced effects by the pianos and 
fortes, and the crescendo and the shake, both as to 
loudness and velocity, which I did not think possible 
upon an instrument that seemed to require little 
other merit than force in the performer. 

''But surely this was a barbarous invention, and 
there is barbarity in the continuance of it. If 
M. Pothoff had been put into Dr. Dominicetti's 
hottest human caldron for an hour, he could not 
have perspired more violently than he did after a 
quarter of an hour of this furious exercise; he 
stripped to his shirt, put on his nightcap, and trussed 
up his sleeves for this execution ; and he said he was 
forced to go to bed the instant it is over, in order 
to prevent his catching cold, as well as to recover 
himself; he being usually so much exhausted as to 
be utterly unable to speak. 

"By the little attention that is paid to this per- 
former, extraordinary as he is, it should seem as if 
some hewer of wood, and drawer of water, whose 
coarse constitution, and gross habits of body, 


required frequent sudorifics, would do the business, 
equally to the satisfaction of such unskillful and 
unfeeling hearers. 

'' . . . Besides these carillons a clavier, the 
chimes here, played by clock-work, are much cele- 
brated. The brass cylinder, on which the tunes are 
set, weighs 4,474 pounds, and has 7,200 iron studs 
fixed in it, which, in the rotation of the cylinder, 
give motion to the clappers of the bells. If their 
High Mightinesses' judgment, as well as taste, 
had not failed them, for half the prime cost of this 
expensive machine, and its real charge for repairs, 
new setting and constant attendance, they might 
have had one of the best bands in Europe. But 
those who can be charmed with barrel music cer- 
tainly neither want, nor deserve better. There is 
scarce a church belonging to the Calvinists in 
Amsterdam, without its chimes, which not only play 
the same tunes every quarter of an hour for three 
months together, without their being changed; but 
by the difference of clocks, one has scarce five minutes 
quiet in the four and twenty hours, from these 
carols for grown gentlemen. In a few days' time I 
had so thorough a surfeit of them, that in as many 
months, I really believe, if they had not deprived 
me of hearing, I should have hated music in general." 



There were no bell foundries in Russia until the 
1 6th century. Before that time the bells used in 
the churches were brought from Italy. But when 
the bell-founding art once ^ started in Russia, it 
spread very rapidly, and before the end of the i6th 
century there were said to be more than five thousand 
bells in Moscow and its suburbs. On fete days, 
when they all rang at the same time, it was said that 
people could not hear each other speak in the streets. 
Whenever the czar left the city, the largest bell an- 
nounced his departure and also heralded his return. 

It came to be regarded as a deed of great merit 
for any citizen or royal personage to donate a bell 
to a church, and the larger the bell, the greater the 

Ivan Veliki had a great bell tower built near the 
Cathedral of St. Nicholas for the proper hanging of 
the bells that were donated to that church. This 
tower still stands, serving its original purpose (see 
Fig. 96). Each story is a belfry. In the first 
story, hanging in solitary grandeur, is a huge bell 
given to the cathedral by the Czar Boris Godunov 
in the early seventeenth century. Its weight is 
given by most writers as one hundred and twenty- 
eight tons, though some say it is one hundred and 







T'cifiyriirliT, T"n^co,! & Underwood 

Fig. 96. Tower of Ivan the Great, Moscow, Russia 



ten, and others less. A writer of 1850 refers to this 
bell sending out its mighty voice three times a year, 
''which produces a tremulous effect through the 
city, and a noise like the rolling of distant thunder." 

Gramstorff Bros., Inc., Maiden, Ma 

Fig. 97. The "Great Bell of Moscow'' 

The clapper of this bell is so heavy that it requires 
several men to sway it from side to side by pulling 
on ropes. It is the largest ringing bell in the world. 
The second story of the Ivan Tower contains two 
huge bells, and each story contains bells arranged 


according to their size. There is one which weighs 
seventy- two tons, another fifty-nine tons, another 
seventeen tons, and many others of exceptional size 
and weight. As one cHmbs the steps of the tower, 
one passes thirty- three bells of various sizes placed 
at different heights in the tower. 

The tower of Ivan Veliki stands inside the walls 
of the Kremlin — a fortified inclosure in the heart 
of Moscow — and contains the famous Cathedral of 
the Assumption, where all the sovereigns of Russia 
for severa,l hundred years have been crowned, and 
many other revered and ancient buildings besides 
the Ivan Tower. 

Within the Kremlin and near the Ivan Tower 
stands the largest and perhaps the most univer- 
sally known bell in the world, — the Czar Kolokol, 
or king of bells, usually called the ''Great Bell of 
Moscow." It is sometimes called Czarina Kolokol, 
or queen of bells. It weighs about two hundred 
tons, and still rests over the spot where it was cast 
nearly two hundred years ago (see Fig. 97). It is 
also seen in Figure 96. 

In 1 701 a very large bell of Moscow was destroyed 
by fire; and in 1733 the Empress Anna Ivanovna 
ordered a great bell to be cast to replace the old one. 
Usually the bell tower is made first, and the bell 
hung in it afterwards. But according to the 
empress' plan, the great bell was to be cast in the 
ground immediately beneath the place where it 
would be hung, and after it was completed the tower 

2 24 BELLS 

should be built around and above it, and thus the 
only moving it would require would be to lift it. 
In this way an enormous bell could be managed. 
The tower which was planned would be a mate 
to the great tower of Ivan Veliki, and the two 
buildings were to be connected with, passageways 
at various heights, and thus both towers would be 

All Moscow was deeply interested in the new bell,, 
and when it was being cast the nobles and other 
devout Russians, both rich and poor, threw into the 
molten metal all kinds of jewels, and plates of gold 
and silver. At last the bell was cast. 

Then a terrible accident occurred. Writers dis- 
agree as to just how it came about that the great 
bell cracked; but they all agree that the great fire 
of 1737, which demolished so much of the city of 
Moscow, was the occasion of the break. Some 
say that the bell was still in the casting pit in the 
earth, and not yet cool, when the fire came, and 
that the water which was poured on the burning 
wood above the pit found its way down to the bell, 
which, still being hot, was cracked by the cold water. 
Others say that the bell was suspended from beams 
which, being destroyed by the fire, permitted the 
bell to fall and break and sink into the ground of its 
own weight. Still others say that the blazing 
wooden rafters which had been put up around, the 
bell, fell upon it and heated the metal, and when 
water was poured on the burning timber above, it 


reached the bell and cracked it. In any case, in 
spite of the fact that the metal of the bell was 
nearly two feet thick, a great piece was broken out 
of it which made the bell dumb even before anyone 
had ever heard its voice I The severed piece weighs 
eleven tons (see Fig. 97). 

For over a hundred years the mighty bell remained 
in the ground. In 1797, says Starmer, *'a mecha- 
nician named Guirt made an attempt to raise this 
colossus ; but his plans, though well conceived, were 
never carried out, as it w^as thought that in raising 
it, the bell would break into pieces." Again, in 18 19, 
the raising of the bell was considered, but nothing 
was done until 1836. By order of Czar Nicholas 
the First, Aug. de Montf errand, an engineer of 
repute, was given instructions to raise the bell from 
its pit. The manipulation of such an enormous 
weight at that period was a problem of great diffi- 
culty. It was successfully done by means of twenty 
capstans, manned by a large number of soldiers, 
on July 23, 1836. 

Montferrand gives the following description of 
the ornamentation on the bell: "Considered as a 
work of art this bell is remarkable for the beauty 
of its form and for its bas-reliefs. These represent 
portraits at full length and of natural size, although 
not finished, of the Czar Alexis Michaelovitch and 
the Empress Anna Ivanovna. . . . The upper 
part is ornamented by figures representing Our 
Lord, the Virgin, and the Holy Evangelists. The 

2 26 BELLS 

Upper and lower friezes are composed of psalms, 

treated in a broad style and with a great deal of 


On top of the bell is a ball upon which rests a 

Greek cross of gilded bronze, the total height being 

thirty -four feet. On one side of the pedestal is an 

inscription cut in a marble slab. Translated, it 

reads : 

This Bell 


Anna Ivanovna 

after having been buried in the earth for more than a 

century was raised to this place 

August 4, 1836 

by the will and under the glorious reign of 

THE Emperor Nicholas the First 

Montferrand gives the particulars of the bell as 
follows; height, 20 feet, 7 inches; diameter, 22 feet, 
8 inches; and weight, 193 tons. Other writers have 
computed its weight as 185, 200, and 220 tons. 
Its circumference has been given variously as 
66 feet, 67 feet and 4 inches, 63 feet and 11 inches. 
Within the bell, it is said, forty people can assemble 
at one time, and the cavity beneath it has been used 
as a chapel. 

One of the large bells in the Ivan Tower was cast 
in 181 7, and called the ''New Bell." It is twenty- 
one feet high, eighteen feet in diameter, and its 
tongue weighs 4,200 pounds. Like the Great Bell, 
the New Bell was also made to replace another large 
bell. In 1 7 10 a bell called Bolshoi (the big) was cast 


weighing sixty-two tons, and was hung with thirty- 
two smaller ones in the Ivan Tower. During the 
French invasion of 181 2 the belfry was almost 
destroyed, and the Bolshoi thrown down and broken. 
Five years later the bell was broken up and addi- 
tional metal was given by the emperor to found a 
new bell, which should weigh seventy-two tons. 
The new bell was cast with great ceremony in the 
presence of great throngs of people and of the arch- 
bishop, who gave his benediction. Nearly all the 
inhabitants of Moscow assembled and proved their 
devotion by throwing gold, jewelry, and silver plate 
into the molten metal. 

Later the New Bell was moved on a large wooden 
sledge from the foundry to the tower. A Te Deum 
was sung, and the labor of dragging the sledge was 
given over to the multitude, who disputed the honor 
of touching a rope. ''The movements were regu- 
lated by little bells managed by Mr. Bogdanof, the 
founder, who stood on a platform attached to the 
bell. Part of the wall was taken down to admit its 
passage, and, as soon as it reached its destination, 
the people leaped upon Mr. Bogdanof, kissing his 
hands, cheeks and clothes, and showing by every 
means in their power the gratitude they felt at the 
restoration of their old favorite. Some days after 
this, the New Bell was slowly raised to the place of 
its predecessor and properly suspended." It is said 
that this bell sounds during the entire time that the 
words of the Nicene Creed are chanted. 



Figure 98 shows a bell belonging to the cathe- 
dral at Leningrad which is made of worn-out and 
reclaimed coins. The diameter is about eight feet. 

Fig. 98. The great hell of the Cathedral of 
St. Isaac, Leningrad, Russia 

It is richly ornamented with four large medallions, 
one of Catherine II, one of Peter the Great, and 
two of other emperors. 

There are many other large bells in Russia, partic- 
ularly at Trotzk and Novgorod. A most interesting 
peal of ancient bells still hangs in the campanile near 
the cathedral at Rostov 

The bells of Russia are never rung by swinging, 
as is the case with English bells. They are fixed 
immovably to their beams, and the clappers alone 
are movable. The clapper is swung by means of 
leather bands which are pulled by ropes in such a 
manner as to cause it to strike the bell in different 



places. An old writer (of 1698) states that when 
the first Czar Kolokol was rung, forty or fifty men 
were employed, half on each side of the bell, who, 
by means of ropes, pulled the clapper to and fro. 

Russia is second to no other country in its 
appreciation of bells. In spite of the sameness of 
Russian ringing, an accustomed ear easily learns the 
meanings of the various sounds that issue from the 
belfry. The different sized bells used, the number 
of rings, the length of time between the rings, the 







' t.'^.C^^^^^Bsl 

Brown Bros« 

Fig. 99. Bell market at Moscow, Russia 

grouping, etc., all have definite meanings to the 
inhabitants, just as the clicks in the telegraph office 

230 BELLS 

are understood by those who know the code. How 
much the Russians love bells is shown by the dis- 
play of bells for sale at their fairs. At the great 
fair in Nijni-Novgorod there were bells for sale 
which weighed a number of tons. Figure 99 (p. 229) 
is from a photograph of a bell market in Moscow. 
The impressive bell tones which occur at the close 
of Tschaikovsky's 181 2 Overture afford an instance 
of the soul-stirring effect of bells even in art. It 
was the awe-inspiring sounds of the great bells of 
Moscow which were uppermost in Tschaikovsky's 
mind when he composed that magnificent finale. 



Italy is the birthplace of Christian church bells, 
and, as one would suppose, there are numerous old 
bells in that country. Figure loo shows one in the 
cathedral at Siena, made in 1159, 
one of the oldest cast and dated 
bells in existence. This old bell 
is still in use. It has only two 
cannons (or loops) , is about three 
feet high, and is shaped like a 
barrel. There are bells in Pisa 
dated 1106, 11 54, and 11 73; one 
in the Leaning Tower dated 1262, 
and one in Verona cast in 1149. 
Figure loi (p. 232) shows an 
Italian bell dated 11 84, now in a 
museum in Florence. 

The famous artist Benvenuto 
Cellini made for Pope Clement VII, in the sixteenth 
century, a silver bell covered with designs of ser- 
pents, flies, grasshoppers, and other insects. This 
bell was used by the pope to give a papal cursing 
of the creatures represented whenever they became 
too numerous in the land. The curse, aided by the 
ringing of this bell, was supposed to have a power- 
ful effect in checking the depredations of those 

Fig. 100. Italian 

hell, cast in 1159, 

now in Siena 





creatures which sometimes "covered the earth Hke 

a crawling blanket." 

The great bell in St. Peter's Church at Rome, 

made in 1786 and 
weighing over nine 
tons, has been con- 
sidered the most 
beautiful bell in the 

There are several 
very old bells still 
existing in France. 
Figure 19 ^ shows an 
old bell of the seventh 
century from a church 
in Noyon. It is not 
cast, and the rivets 
may be plainly seen. 
Bells were hung in 
the various cathedrals 
of France as early as 
the tenth century, 
probably the oldest 

cast bell now existing in France being an old bell of 

Normandy, cast in 1202, and now in the Museum 

of Bayeux (see Fig. 102). 

By the thirteenth century large bells were being 

made. Figure 103^ shows a thirteenth-century 

bell and Figure 104^ a fourteenth-century bell of 

iChap. IV, p. 37. 2See p. 235. 

Fig. ioi. Italian hell, cast in 1184, 

now in Florence 


France. The "Jacquelin" of Paris, cast in 1400, 
weighed twelve and a half tons, and the celebrated 
''Ambroise Bell" at Rouen, cast in 1 501, weighed 
over eighteen tons! In 1786, when Louis XVI 
visited Rouen, amid the public rejoicings this bell 
cracked, which incident was afterward considered 
an omen of the fate of that unfortunate king. 
In 1793 the bell was converted into cannon. 

The famous city of Avignon in the south of France 
in its palmy days had three hundred bells, and was 
called the "Ringing City." In the cathedral was a 

Fig. 102. French hell from Fontenailles, dated 1202 

silver bell which was especially famous for its sup- 
posed ability to ring of its own accord.^ 

iSee chap, xxiii, p. 250. 

234 BELLS 

In 1547 Francis the First, king of France, imposed 
a tax on salt. This caused a rebellion, and at 
Bordeaux the rebels murdered the king's lieutenant, 
Tristram de Moneins, and filled his body with salt. 
Henry II sent the constable, Anne de Montmo- 
rency, who with the help of the Duke de Guise 
caused one hundred and fifty persons to be executed, 
and he obliged the nobles of the city to exhume, 
with their own nails, the buried body of De Moneins; 
then the man who first sounded the tocsin was con- 
demned to be hanged from the clapper of the bell. 
All the bells which had been used to rouse the 
people to rebellion were destroyed, and the others 
were carried to different towns. This deprivation 
of its bells was a punishment very humiliating to 
the city. Two years later, however, Henry II par- 
doned the people of Bordeaux, and one of the happy 
results of the pardon was the restoration of bells 
in the churches. ^ 

The large clock bell at Notre Dame in Paris was 
cast in 1682, and is eleven feet in diameter. There 
is also a fine Bourbon bell in Notre Dame called 
"Emanuel." This bell was cast in 1685, weighs 
more than eight tons, and is eight feet and seven 
inches in diameter. 

In former days the bell ringers of France and 
Spain often rang the bells by jumping ape-like from 
one bell rope to another, to the great uneasiness of 
all onlookers. 

iRev. H. T. Ellacombe, in Church Bells of Devon, Exeter, 1872. 



Fig. 103. A French 
bell dated i2yj 

Fig. 104. A French bell of 
the fourteenth century 

Germany is not lacking in bells, both old and new. 
Figure 20 (chap, iv) shows one which was made in 
Cologne in the seventh century. There is one in 
Bavaria dated 1144, and one at Freiburg dated 1258. 




In the fourteenth century bell foundries were set 
up in most of the principal towns, and the art spread 
over the country. 

One of the most famous bells of Germany is in 
Erfurt, Saxony. In 145 1 a large bell was cast for 
the Erfurt Cathedral, but in 1472 a fire in the 
cathedral melted the bell. In 1497 another great 
bell was cast, which bears the name of ''Maria 
Gloriosa." It is supposed to weigh fifteen tons, 
and has a diameter of eight feet, seven and one-half 
inches. Its tone is fine and pure, and in clear 
weather it may be heard at a distance of three miles. 
It is considered a very fine example of bell founding. 

In the Church of St. Stephen at Vienna is a large 
bell weighing over seventeen tons, with a diameter 
of nearly ten feet. It was cast in 171 1 by order of 
Emperor Joseph from the cannon left by the Turks 
when they raised the siege of that city. Figure 105 
is from an old drawing which represents this bell 
being carried through the streets of Vienna on the 
way from the foundry to the church. The following 
news concerning this bell appeared in a New York 
paper of March 5, 1925, with the heading: "Vienna's 
17-Ton Bell is Rung, 200 Years Old, Silent for 50." 

''The big bell of famous St. Stephen's Cathedral, 
weighing seventeen tons, that has been silent for 
fifty years, was rung again today. 

"The bell was made two hundred years ago. It 
has not been rung for the last five decades because 
of the tower being thought unsafe." 



Figure io6 is a very ornate bell cast in Saxony 
about i860. 

Two famous bells, the ''Maria Gloriosa" and the 
"Emperor," hung for many years in the twin towers 

Pig. 106. Bell at Stargard, cast about i860 

of the Cologne Cathedral.^ They were cast from 
the metal of forty-two French cannon captured by 
the Germans in the War of 1870. In the late 
World War they were again made into cannon. A 
massive new bell was made for this cathedral in 
1924. Figure 107 shows this bell as it was being 
moved from the foundry. The same bell is also 
pictured in Figure 4 7 2. 

The oldest dated bell in Denmark is at Odense, 
cast in 1300. In Norway many large bells were 
destroyed at the time of the Reformation, , and 

See Fig. 156 on p. 360. 

-See p. 94. 



others were, from time to time, melted down and 
turned into money for the wars. However, there 
are several bells in Scandinavia with Runic inscrip- 
tions. Figure 108 on page 240 is a drawing of the 
"Dref Bell" in Sweden. The Runic inscription 
is read from right to left. Translated, it means: 
" Brother Sbialbuthi made me. Jesus Christus. Ave 
Maria Gracia." 

One of the most famous bells of Europe is the 
great alarm bell ''Roland," which hangs in the belfry 
of Ghent in Belgium. It was cast in 1343, recast 
in 1659, and bears the following inscription: ''Mees- 
ter Jan van Roosbeke, clock-meester. Ick heete 
Roelandt: Ah men my slaet, dan isH hrandt; Als 


■^^p/ '-^ 

1^; - - " 'W} 


^\:.i:ft.^P»i5TC, . 

Mr' '~-'''Mi 




^t'^va^'i . wSM 




Gilliams Ser-vice, N.Y. 

Fig. 107. Moving the big bell for the Cologne Cathedral 

24* BELLS 

men my luyd, isH zegen of storm in Vlaenderland^ 
Translated, this means (following the name of the 
maker) : ' ' My name is Roland ; when I toll, there 
is fire; and when I ring, there is victory in the land." 
It was badly cracked again in July, 19 14. For 
many generations Roland has called the citizens of 

Fig. 108. The '' Dref BelV of Sweden 

Ghent together to defend their town, and there are 
few bells in the world that have been so beloved. 

Above the belfry is a gilded copper dragon which 
was made at Ghent at the close of the fourteenth 
century. For a time the people of Bruges pos- 
sessed this dragon, but it later came back into the 
possession of the Ghent burghers, who placed it 
above the belfry tower. There is a legend that the 
Crusaders brought this dragon from Constantinople 
to Bruges, but this is probably only a myth. 


The bell fame of Belgium and Holland lies in 
their carillons. ^ 

There is a bell in the cathedral of Toledo, Spain, 
which is said to weigh seventeen tons, and has long 
been celebrated for its size and for the stories 
connected with it. One writer says that fifteen 
shoemakers could sit under it and draw out their 
cobbler's thread without touching. Another story 
about this bell runs thus : ^ A rich count of Toledo 
had a son who, having killed a man in a duel, sought 
refuge in the cathedral while his father went to 
Madrid to petition the king for his pardon. "No," 
said the king; "he who has killed a man mUvSt die!" 
The count continued to petition and the king to 
refuse, until at length the king, wishing to get rid 
of him, said: "When you can make a bell at Toledo 
that I can hear at Madrid, I'll pardon the young 
man." Now Toledo is nearly sixty miles from 
Madrid. The count went home, and some time 
after, as the king was sitting in his palace at the 
open window, he heard a distant roll. "Volgame 
Dias," "God help me!" he cried. "That's the 
bell of Toledo!" and the young man obtained his 

Many bells of Spanish make were brought to 
America during the time of the Spanish missions, 
and some of them are still in existence in this country. 
vSome of these are shown in Figures 117 and 118.^ 

^See chap. xix. 

2Rev. H. T. EUacombe, in Church Bells of Devon. 

■See pp. 281 and 282. 



With the possible exception of Russia, no country 
of Europe has attached more importance to church 
bells than has Great Britain. Ireland claims the 
oldest 'Christian bells in existence. ^ Figure 109 
shows three modem bells of Ireland, cast by an 
English founder. They are the largest and the 
smallest bells of the carillon of the Armagh Cathedral. 

John Taylor & Co. 

Fig. 109. Three hells of the carillon in 
Armagh Cathedral, Ireland 

The oldest dated bell in England is one at Claugh- 
ton, Lancashire, bearing the date 1296, but with 
no other inscription. There is one, however, in 
Surrey which is said to date from 1250 or earlier. 
''Great Peter" of Exeter has been traced back to 
the middle of the fourteenth century, but, like most 
of the old bells, it has been recast, — once in 

^See chap. v. 


1484, and again in 1676. It is used now as a 
clock bell, for curfew and matins. 

St. Dunstan's bell at Canterbury Cathedral was 
cast in 1430. 

''Great Peter" of Gloucester has the distinction 
of being the only medieval signum, or great bell, 
now remaining in England. It was probably cast 
about the middle of the fifteenth century. Every 
evening at nine o'clock it is struck with a hammer 
forty-nine times. 

Sir Henry Vernon of Tong, in Shropshire, once 
lost his wa}^ in a forest and was guided home by 
the sound of the bells of the village. In gratitude 
he gave a bell in 1 5 1 8 to the parish church of Tong, 
and ordered that it should be tolled ''when any 
Vernon came to Tong." It weighs two and one-half 
tons, and is called the "Great Bell of Tong." In 
1720, and again in 1892, it had to be recast. 

In the reign of Henry VIII there stood in St. 
Paul's churchyard a lofty bell tower containing four 
bells called "Jesus Bells," the largest in London. 
In a gambling game with one of his courtiers. Sir 
Miles Partridge, King Henry staked the bell tower 
and its bells. Sir Miles won, and had the tower 
pulled down and the bells broken up. A few years 
afterward this gentleman was hanged; and some of 
the old writers have said that it was a judgment 
sent upon him for gambling for bells. 

"Great Tom" of Lincoln is a very old and well 
known bell. It was probably made during the 

244 BELLS 

reign of Queen Elizabeth, and recast in 1610. It 
suffered a severe crack some two hundred years 
later, and was again melted and recast, with an 
additional ton of metal, in 1835, ^-^^ i^ow weighs 
five tons. It is used as a sermon bell on great 
festivals, and tolls for the funerals of church dig- 
nitaries and members of the royal family. It is 
also used as a clock bell, and is sometimes rung on 
Good Friday. 

''Great Tom" of Oxford hangs in a belfry called 
Tom's Tower over the gateway to Christ Church 
College. The bell has a long inscription beginning 
"Magnus Thomas Oxoniensis." It is the descend- 
ant of one of the bells of Osney Abbey given to 
the college. This old bell was christened Mary at 
the beginning of Bloody Mary's reign. It was 
damaged and recast in 1 6 1 2 ; was again broken and 
recast in 1680, and is now called Tom. It still 
tolls one hundred and one strokes every night at 
nine o'clock, as a signal that all the undergraduates 
must return to their colleges. The one hundred 
and one strokes is a time-honored custom, that 
being the number of students enrolled the first year 
of the college. It is claimed that the two Toms 
(of Oxford and of Lincoln) owe their names to the 
fact that they give out a sound which resembles 
that name 

The hour bell of St. Paul's Cathedral in London 
is one of England's famous bells, cast in 17 16, and 
weighing over five tons. The ancestor of this bell 



was old ''Great Tom" of Westminster/ which hung 
in a campanile opposite Westminster Hall until 
1698, when the campanile was pulled down and the 
bell moved to St. Paul's. It cracked soon after, 
and was recast in 17 16. 
It is struck every hour 
by machinery connected 
with the clock, and the 
clapper hangs idle ex- 
cept when the bell is 
tolled to announce the 
death or funeral of a 
bishop of London, a 
dean of St. Paul's, a 
member of the royal 
family, or the Lord 
Mayor of the year. 

''Great Peter" of 
York is one of England's 
largest bells, being over 
seven feet high and 
weighing ten and three- 
quarters tons. When 
it was cast, in 1845, it 
required fourteen days 
to cool. Every day at 
noon it is struck twelve 
times, and it is tolled 
occasionally for deaths or funerals. It is also given 
twelve strokes at midnight on New Year's Eve. 

iSee p. 162. 

Fig. iio. "Great Paul" of St. Paul's 

Cathedral, London, being lifted into 

the tower 

246 BELLS 

The largest bell in England is ''Great Paul," in 
St. Paul's Cathedral. It was cast in 1881 by 
Taylor of Loughborough, and weighs seventeen and 
one-half tons, is nearly nine feet high, and nine and 
one-half feet in diameter. Its tone is low E flat. 
Figure no (p. 245) shows the bell being lifted into 
the tower of St. Paul's Cathedral. 

Perhaps the most widely known of England's 
bells is "Big Ben," a bell of thirteen and one-half 
tons which hangs in the bell tower of the Houses of 
Parliament in London. The complete story of this 
bell is given in chapter xvi. 

The third largest bell in England was made 
recently by the Taylor bell foundry for Bristol 
University, and weighs something over twelve tons. 

England's carillons have been mentioned in 
another chapter. The rapidly growing interest in 
carillon music will probably result in more and finer 
bells being made, not only for Great Britain and 
the Continent, but for all other countries as well. 



When Clot aire II, king of France (615 a.d.), was 
at Sens in Burgundy, he heard a bell in the church 
of St. Stephen which pleased him so much that he 
ordered it to be taken to Paris. The bell was so 
distressed at being carried away from home that it 
turned dumb on the road and lost all its sound. 
When the king heard of this, he was much con- 
cerned. A few years before this the French army 
had been frightened away by the ringing of the bells 
in St. Stephen's Church, and now the king was 
perhaps no less frightened by the silence of this one. 
He commanded that the bell should be carried back 
to Sens. No sooner did the bell approach the town 
than it recovered its voice, and rang so loudly that 
it was heard at Sens while it was yet seven miles 

Many stories are told of bells v/hich would not 
allow themselves to be taken away from the churches 
to which they belonged, or where they were bap- 
tized. In some cases, bells which were removed 
were thought to take nightly trips to their old homes 
unless they were securely tied with chains and ropes. 
In Wiltshire there is a legend of a tenor bell having 
been conjured into the river; but when night came 
the bell returned, having overcome the fiend that 

17 "47 

248 BELLS 

conjured it. The ringer says, in relating the 
incident in rime: 

' ' In spite of all the devils in hell 
Here comes our old and faithful bell." 

Not only the Celts^ but other Europeans also 
believed in the power of bells to work miraculous 
punishments upon wrongdoers. The incident of 
Charlemagne's bell which would not ring (probably 
because the clapper was not rightly adjusted, or 
the bell not properly hung) will be recalled. ^ This 
bell was ever afterward looked upon with great 
veneration as the discoverer and punisher of the 
dishonest bell founder. 

The bishop of Bangor offers another case of 
miraculous bell punishment. This bishop sold his 
cathedral bells, and became bhnd while they were 
being shipped. 

There is a story of a band of robbers who went 
into a monastery, stole what they wished, and 
then, out of mere bravado, went to the bell ropes and 
began to ring a peal upon the bells. The priest 
prayed, a miracle was wrought, and the robbers 
were unable to let the ropes go. The story does 
not state how long these robbers were forced to swing 
in the air. 

Cruikshank, one of the old English artists, has 
made this legend famous by his drawing of the 
robbers' uncomfortable plight (see Fig. iii). 

iSee chap. vi. -See p. 38. 



Another thief who was brought to justice by a 
church bell is well known. This thief broke into 
a small church in Scotland where he hoped to reap 
a rich harvest by stealing the communion plate. He 
heard steps outside the building and, fearing that 
he might be discovered, looked about for a place 
to hide. In a corner of the church he espied a long 

Fig. III. Cruikshank's drawmg of the robber band 

rope hanging from the dark shadows above and 
dangling to the floor. "Aha," he said to himself, 

2 50 BELLS 

"I'll just climb up there and be out of sight," and 
laid hold of the rope. His weight rang the bell so 
loudly that his pursuers came at once to the spot. 
The thief, being caught, turned to the bell which 
had brought him to justice, saying: "If it had not 
been for thy long tongue and empty head, I should 
not have been in my present predicament!" 

According to many legends, bells have refused to 
sound at times, and have also rung of their own 
accord upon suitable occasions. A bell in the 
monastery of Meinulph was said to ring unaided 
whenever any of the nuns died. It is also recorded 
that the church bells rang without human assistance 
when Thomas a Becket was murdered. In 1062, 
when a great famine raged in Flanders, a certain 
man was found dead of hunger at Ardenburg, near 
Bruges. It is recorded that while he was being 
buried the parish priests forbade the tolling of the 
bells, because he was unknown; and to the wonder 
of all, the bells sounded forth of their own accord. 

A silver bell in the cathedral at Avignon was 
famous for its power to ring of its own volition. 
It rang to announce the accession of a new pope, 
and when a pope died it was said to toll without 
stopping for- the space of twenty-four hours. 

Saint Hilda died at Whitby in the year 680. 
Bede, the historian, states that "one of the Sisters 
named Bega, in the distant monastery of Hackness 
(13 miles away), while she was in the dormitory, 
on the night of Hilda's death, on a sudden heard 


in the air the well known sound of the bell which 
used to call the Sisters to prayers when any one of 
them was being taken from this world. Opening 
her eyes, she saw, as she thought, the top of the 
house open and a strong light pour in from above. 
Looking earnestly into the light, she saw the soul 
of the departed Abbess attended toward heaven by 
angels. She told of her vision to the Sisters who 
presided over the monastery, and they assembled 
the Sisters in the church. They were engaged 
in praying and singing songs for the soul of St. Hilda 
when the messenger came to report her death." 

There are many legends of buried churches from 
which the bells may be heard to ring from the 
interior of the earth and from under water. In 
some of the mountainous districts of Europe the 
peasants collect in the fields or valleys to hear 
the bells which, as they believe, ''are sure to sound 
out for joy on Christmas Eve from beneath their 
feet." In Germany there is a legend of a church 
lost in a thick forest. The German poet Uhland 
refers to this in his lines which read, when translated : 

Oft in the forest far one hears 
A passing sound of distant bells ; 
Nor legends old, nor human wit, 
Can tell us whence the music swells. 
From the lost church 'tis that soft though 
Faint ringing cometh on the wind : 
Once many pilgrims trod the path, 
But no one now the way can find. 

2 52 BELLS 

Much poetry hangs about these legends, relating 
how, ''through the silent night — whether to the 
fisher or the sailor or the miner — they speak of a 
city or a temple that is buried, or a life that has 
passed away into darkness, yet lives, and with its 
pure and tender sound calls from the deep." ''The 
Sunken Bell" by Hauptmann is a well-known poem 
which was inspired by these legends. Even musical 
composers have made use of them, a notable example 
of which is Debussy's "Disappearing Cathedral." 

There is a valley in Nottinghamshire, England, 
said to have been caused by an earthquake several 
centuries ago which swallowed up an entire village 
together with the church. Formerly the people 
assembled in this valley regularly, every Christmas 
Day, to listen to the ringing of the bells in the church 
beneath them. It was positively asserted that these 
sounds could be heard by putting the ear to the 
ground and listening very attentively. Even now 
on Christmas morning the old men and women tell 
their children and young friends to go to the valley 
and stoop down to listen to the Christmas bells 
ringing merrily beneath them. 

Two fine bells once hung in a church tower in the 
town of Lochen, Holland. These bells, however, 
had not been baptized; so one day the Evil One 
appeared and suddenly carried them away from the 
church tower and hid them in two ponds near the 
town. This was many years ago, they say, but 
the peasants still believe they hear the bells ringing 


from these ponds of stagnant water every year on 
Christmas Eve, precisely at twelve o'clock. 

A little chapel is said to have been submerged in 
one of the lakes at Crose Mere, England; and the 
villagers will tell of how the bells may be heard 
ringing constantly beneath the still water. 

Near the end of the seventeenth century Port 
Royal, in the West Indies, was submerged. For many 
years the sailors in those parts would tell wonderful 
stories of how they anchored amongst the chimneys 
and church steeples of the city beneath the sea. 
They also declared that at times the sound of the 
church bells, as they were agitated by the waves, 
could be plainly heard. 

The legend of the Jersey bells is well known among 
the people of that island in the English Channel. 
Many years ago the twelve parish churches in Jersey 
each possessed a beautiful and valuable peal of bells ; 
but during the long English civil war the states 
determined on selling these bells to defray the 
heavy expenses of their army. The bells were 
accordingly collected and sent to Prance for that 
purpose. But on the passage the ship foundered, 
and everything was lost, to show the wrath of heaven 
at the sacrilege. Ever since then, just before a 
storm, these bells ring up from the deep ; and to this 
day the fishermen of St. Ouen's Bay always go to 
the edge of the water before embarking, to listen 
for ''the bells upon the wind." If those warning 
notes are heard, nothing will induce them to leave 

2 54 BELLS 

the shore; if all is quiet, they fearlessly set sail. 
As a gentleman who has versified the legend says: 

'Tis an omen of death to the mariner, 

Who wearily fights with the sea, 

For the foaming surge is his winding sheet, 

And his funeral knell are we ; — 

His funeral knell our passing bell. 

And his winding sheet the sea.^ 

The bells of Bottreaux which were lost on the 
Cornish coast have furnished a legend similar to 
that of the Jersey bells. The Bottreaux bells had 
arrived in a goodly ship to within sight of the town 
in which they were to be hung. But before the ship 
landed the captain used such blasphemous language 
that, as a punishment (according to the legend), 
the vessel was driven on shore, and foundered 
amidst the rocks, with all its freight on board. The 
bells, however, may still be heard ringing from the 
bottom of the sea with a warning voice amidst 
the breakers when a storm is about to rise. 

Once Peter Gyldenstierne, of Jutland, in Den- 
mark, in some war with the Swedes was so struck 
with the tone of two bells that hung in a Swedish 
church tower that he determined to obtain them and 
take them to Jutland. He consulted all the vil- 
lagers as to how he might get the bells down without 
injuring the church tower, but no one could assist 
him. Finally a man came to him and said: ''Pro- 
vide for my wife and children, and I will show you 

iRev. H. T. Ellacombe. 


how to obtain the bells." Peter agreed. The 
peasant then had two lofty hillocks of sand erected 
at the side of the tower; then cutting the chains 
that held the bells, he let them roll down gently, 
one after the other. They reached the ground 
safely, the tower was not injured, and the peasant 
forthwith claimed his reward. "Yes," answered 
Gyldenstierne, "I will keep my promise, and pro- 
vide handsomely for your wife and children. But 
for yourself, a traitor to your country, you shall 
take the place of the bells." And the peasant was 
strung up to the church tower. 

One of the bells arrived safely in Jutland and was 
hung in the tower of Thim Church. The other one 
was shipwrecked off the coast by "Missum Fiorde." 
It fell tongue uppermost, however, and according to 
the story, it still lies embedded in the sand. On a 
summer's evening when the tide is low, ''the music 
may still be heard by the fishermen who ply their 
crafts in the water, music so beautiful, they say, the 
like was never heard. As for the other bell, her 
tones are sad and melancholy; no wonder — she 
wants to come down to her sister." 

Many of the peasants of Europe preserve the 
tradition that the baptized church bells wander 
every year to Rome for confession. They leave on 
Thursday in Passion week, and return on Easter 
morning. In some places the children gaze into 
the sky and imagine they see in the clouds the figures 
of angels bringing the bells home after they have 

256 BELLS 

received the pope's blessing. The fact that the bells 
were not rung during the three days before Easter 
probably gave rise to this belief. Figure 112 shows 
a detail of the celebration in Spain on the occasion 
of the bell's return from Rome, when the people 
dance in the streets and the young men perform 
gymnastic feats on the bell ropes. 

In Florence and other places in Italy the oil that 
dropped from the framework of church bells was 
regarded as a valuable remedy for various ailments. 
People who suffered with rheumatism and other 
complaints were rubbed with this oil, and they fully 
believed that it helped them. 

In the Lay of the Last Minstrel, Walter vScott 
relates an incident of the wondrous Michael Scott: 
A wizard of such dreadful fame 
That when in Salamanca's cave, 
Him listed his magic wand to wave, 
The bells would ring in Notre Dame ! 

According to the story, Michael Scott was sent upon 
an embassy to the king of France, and for this trip 
he called forth by magic a huge black horse that 
flew through the air to France with Michael on his 
back. When he arrived in Paris he tied his horse 
at the royal gate, entered the palace, and stood before 
the king. The king was about to refuse the request 
when he was asked to postpone his answer until he 
had seen Michael's horse stamp three times. The 
first stamp shook every steeple in Paris and made all 
the bells ring. The second stamp threw down three 



of the towers of the palace; 
and before the horse had 
stamped a third time the 
king granted Michael's re- 
quest and told him to begone. 
Countless stories have been 
told of bells which pro- 
nounced words, and even 
sentences, when they rang. 
These stories take hold on 
the imagination of simple 
peoples, if, when they are 
told, bell sounds are imitated 
in repeating the words the 
bells are supposed to pro- 
nounce. Such a story is told 
of a bell in the old church 
at Krempe, in Holstein. 
While this bell was being 
cast the people from all the 
country around brought 
silver coins and trinkets to 
be thrown into the fusing 
metal, for it was thought 
that the mixture of silver in 
bell metal improved the 
sound of the bell. The ava- 
ricious founder decided to 
keep these valuable offerings _ ^ , , . , 

Fig. 112. Celebrating the return 
for himself, so he put them of the bells at Easter 

258 BELLS 

all aside; but during his temporary absence the 
apprentice took all the silver and threw it into 
the melting mass. When the master returned the 
apprentice told him that he had applied the silver 
to the purpose for which it was presented by the 
donors; at this the master grew very angry, and 
killed the lad. 

When the bell was cast, and hung in the tower of 
the church, its tone proved to be very fine, but also 
mournful; and whenever it was rung it distinctl}^ 
sounded like "Schad' um den Jungen! Schad' um den 
Jungenf' ("Pity for the lad! Pity for the lad!") 

''The church bell of Keitum, on the Isle of Silt 
in the North Sea, off the coast of Denmark, dis- 
tinctly says 'Ing Dung!' which are the names of 
two pious spinsters at whose expense the old bell 
tower of the church was erected long ago. There 
exists an old prophecy in the place that, after the 
bell shall have fallen down and killed the finest 
youth of the island, the tower will likewise fall, 
and will kill the most beautiful girl of Silt. A fine 
youth was actually killed by the fall of the bell in 
the year 1739; and since that time the young girls 
of Silt are generally very timid in approaching the 
tower, for each one thinks that she may be the 
destined victim. "^ 

The church at Dambeck, in northern Germany, 
is so very old that the oldest inhabitants of the 
place affirm that its outer walls, which only are now 

^Carl Engel, in Musical Myths and Facts. 


remaining, were built before the deluge. The tower 
with the bells is sunk in the Lake JMiiritz; and in 
olden time the people have often seen the bells 
rising to the surface of the water on St. John's Day. 
One afternoon some children, who had carried the 
dinner to their parents laboring in an adjacent field, 
stopped by the lake to wash the napkins. These 
little urchins saw the bells, which had risen above 
the water. One of the children, a little girl, spread 
her napkin over one for the purpose of drying it; 
the consequence was that the bell could not descend 
again. But though all the rich people of the town 
of Robel came to secure the bell for themselves, they 
were unable to remove it, notwithstanding that 
they brought sixteen strong horses to draw it from 
the place. They were still unsuccessfully urging 
the horses when a poor man happened to pass that 
way from the fields with a pair of oxen. The man, 
seeing what the rich people were about, at once told 
them to put their horses aside; he then yoked his 
pair of oxen to the bell, and said: ''Nu met God 
foer Arme un Rieke, all to geliekel!'' ("Now with 
the help of God, alike for poor and rich.") Having 
pronounced these words, he drove the bell without 
the least difficulty to Robel, where it was soon hung 
in the tower of the new church. Whenever a really 
poor man dies in Robel, this bell is tolled for him 
free of charge, and it distinctly says ''Dambeck! 

iCarl Engel, in Musical Myths and Facts. 

26o BELLS 

The prophetic words chimed by the bells of Bow 
Church to Dick Whittington are known in all 
English speaking countries. According to the story, 
Dick was a poor orphan who found his way to London 
and worked in the house of a rich merchant named 
Fitz warren. Dick slept in a garret where the rats 
were very troublesome until he acquired a cat to 
keep him company. This cat was the only thing 
he possessed in the world. 

One day Mr. Fitzwarren prepared a ship to sail to 
foreign countries, loading it with valuable things 
to sell. All the servants in the house were allowed 
to send something of their own to be sold, to try 
their luck in the field of foreign trade. Dick, since 
he owned nothing else, sent his beloved cat. 

Some time after the ship had sailed, Dick was 
treated so unkindly by the other servants in the 
merchant's family that he decided he could stand 
it no longer, and ran away. He walked as far as 
Halloway, and there sat down on a stone to rest 
and to think which road he should take. While he 
was thinking, the bells of Bow Church in London 
began to ring the tune given on the opposite page. 
As he listened, it seemed to him that the bells were 
saying, ''Turn again, Whittington, Lord Mayor of 
London! Turn again, Whittington, Lord Mayor 
of London!" 

''Lord Mayor of London!" he said to himself. 
"Of course I will obey the bells and turn back if 
that is what they promise me! I am willing to 





^ ffr* N m 

« p 

L " 1 • 



T^ C HI J i 

IJ * 

j; n • ^ > 


Turn a - gain, Whit - ting - ton, 


Lord Mayor of 







Whit - ting - ton, 




Lord Mayor of 



endure anything if I may only be Lord Mayor when 
I am a man ! " So Dick turned back and again took 
up his work among the Fitzwarren servants. 

Meanwhile, the ship landed on the shores of 
Barbary at a time when the queen's residence was 
overrun with rats. The cat was sold to the queen 
of Barbary for enough gold to make Dick a rich 
man. The story relates that he married the mer- 
chant's daughter, became a great merchant himself, 
was three times Lord Mayor of London, and was 
made a knight by King Henry V. 

262 BELLS 

The latter part of this story is probably true, for 
the Sir Richard Whittington of history was three 
times Lord Mayor of London, was very wealthy, and 
famous for his acts of charity and public helpfulness. 
He died in 1423. In truth, however. Sir Richard 
was never a poor boy, and the famous legend of 
Dick and his cat is probably a myth. The story 
has been associated with the bells of Bow Church 
for hundreds of years, and the song on page 261 is 
placed among the old English folk songs. 

Many stories are told of great and lifelong affec- 
tion for certain bells. Such a story is associated 
with the bells of. St. Mary's Church in Limerick, 
Ireland. These bells were made by an Italian 
founder, who spent so much care and thought upon 
them that by the time they were finished he had 
come to love them almost as if they were human 
beings. He sold them to a convent for enough money 
to buy for himself a little home near by, where he 
hoped to spend the rest of his days within sound of 
their daily ringing. But his peaceful content did 
not last long. The convent was destroyed, and 
the bells were carried away to Ireland. 

Various misfortunes sent the poor bell maker 
wandering about the world, seeking some place of 
quiet happiness. In his old age he found his way 
to Ireland — to Limerick, where in the steeple of 
St. Mary's Church hung the bells which he had 
made. One day, as he sailed up the River Shannon, 
he heard the bells ringing as he looked at the church 


steeple. After all these years he remembered their 
tones, and knew they were his bells. His joy at 
hearing them again was so great that his feeble 
frame could not bear it, and he died while yet the 
bells were ringing. 

A peasant bell ringer of earlier days in Italy was 
so devoted to the large bell which he rang every 
day that when orders were given for this bell to 
be kept silent for a time (as a punishment to the 
city) his grief was unbearable. He cHmbed to the 
belfry, threw his arms about the bell, and wept. 
Leaning against the bell, he wailed so bitterly and 
so loudly, and the sound jf his voice was so inten- 
sified by the metal, that his wailing was heard like 
the mournful ringing of a bell all over the city and 
far out into the country beyond. There he died, 
so the story goes, broken hearted, still clinging to 
his beloved bell. 

Another story of lifelong affection for a bell is 
told in chapter i, pages 1-8. 

Bells have been blamed for the disappearance of 
the dwarfs and other mysterious inhabitants of 
fairy-tale days. These curious traditions may still 
be found among the country folk of northern 
Europe — it being such an easy way to explain the 
absence of those small beings who could not bear 
the sound of bell ringing! 

According to one of these legends, ^ a large number 
of mountain dwarfs of Holstein were so troubled 

iCarl Engel, in Musical Myths and Facts. 

264 BELLS 

by the sounds of the many new church bells intro- 
duced there, that they made up their minds to leave 
the country. So they arranged their affairs, set 
out in a body, and traveled northward until they 
came to the River Eider. There they found a 
ferryboat, but, it being late at night, the ferryman 
was asleep. They knocked at his door several 
times, and finally he appeared with a bludgeon in 
his hand ready to punish the disturber of his sleep. 

As he walked in the direction of the river he saw 
before him, to his great surprise, a multitude of 
gray-looking dwarfs, who moved restlessly to and 
fro, like ants when an anthill is opened. One of 
them, a very old dwarf with a long white beard, 
approached the ferryman and asked that he ferry 
the company across the river. 

''You will be paid for your services," said the 
dwarf with the long beard. ''Just place your hat 
upon the bank of the river for our people to throw 
the money into as they enter the boat." 

The ferryman did so, and the boat was soon 
crowded with the little beings, who scrambled about 
like insects. There were so many that he had to 
make the trip several times before he had carried 
all of them across the river. He noticed that each 
of them threw what seemed to be a grain of sand 
into the hat; but he did not mind that; his one 
thought was to be finished with these strange people, 
for he felt very uncomfortable among them. The 
dwarf with the long beard had told him that they 


were compelled to migrate to some other part of 
the world on account of the church bells and the 
hymn singing, which they could no longer endure. 
This, in the mind of the ferryman, seemed to prove 
their connection, in some way, with evil spirits, 
and he was greatly relieved when the last load was 
on the other side. Then, looking across the river, 
he saw the whole field glittering with lights which 
flitted about in every direction. The little travelers 
had lighted their lanterns. When he came to the 
bank and took up his hat, how he opened his eyes! 
The hat was full of gold! 

Long ago, in Sweden, it was thought to be the 
common practice with pagan giants to hurl stones 
at the churches, though they never hit them. The 
sound of the church bell was very hateful to these 
giants. Near Laga^ is a mountain celebrated as the 
former domicile of a giant, who lived there until 
the time of the Reformation, when the church of 
the place was provided with bells. One morning the 
dejected giant addressed a peasant from Laga whose 
name was Jacob and who happened to be at the 
foot of the mountain. ''Jacob," said the giant in a 
subdued tone of voice, "come in, Jacob, and eat of 
my stew!" 

But Jacob, alarmed at the kind invitation, rephed 
rather hesitatingly: ''Sir, if you have more stew 
than you can consume, you had better keep the 
rest for tomorrow." 

iCarl Engel, in Musical Myths and Facts. 

266 BELLS 

Upon this sensible advice the dejected giant com- 
plained: '*I cannot stay here even till tomorrow! 
I am compelled to leave this place because of the 
constant bell ringing, which is quite insupportable!" 

Whereupon Jacob, getting a little courage, asked 
him: ''And when do you intend to come back 

The dejected giant, hearing himself thus ques- 
tioned, replied whiningly: "Come back again? 
Oh, certainly not until the mount has become the 
bottom of the sea, and the sea itself arable and fertile 
land. If this should ever happen, then I may per- 
haps come back again." So the church bells 
banished paganism from Sweden! 

The bells of justice which were used ages ago in 
China^ and later in other countries have given rise 
to several legends. One of these is called ''The 
Stone of Gratitude," which runs as follows: 

Once a Roman emperor became blind, but he 
still wished to govern his people wisely, and not 
allow them to suffer from his loss of eyesight. So 
in his palace he had a bell hung with a long rope 
fastened to it and extending to the outside of the 
palace so that the rope could be pulled and the bell 
rung by any sufferer from injustice. When this 
bell was rung, one of the emperor's officers went 
down to hear the complaint and right the wrong. 

It happened that a serpent had her home in the 
ground under the end of the bell rope. Here she 

iSee p. 306. 


kept her little serpents safe from harm. One day 
an ugly toad came into her home, frightened her 
little ones, and refused to go out. Then the ser- 
pent, in desperation, coiled her tail about the bell 
rope and rang the bell. The judge came down, 
and after he had finally discovered the serpent and 
the toad, he reported the case to the emperor. 

''The toad is in the wrong," said the emperor. 
"Kill it, and let the serpent keep her home." The 
judge did as he was told. 

A few days later, as the emperor lay in his bed, 
the serpent came into the room and crawled toward 
him. The servants were afraid lest it do some harm 
to the emperor, but he said, ' ' It will do me no harm. 
I have been just to it. Let us see what it will do." 

The serpent glided up the bed and laid upon the 
emperor's eyes a precious stone which it carried in 
its mouth. Then it slipped out of the room and 
disappeared. But no sooner had the stone touched 
the emperor's eyes than his sight was restored.^ 

"The Bell of Atri," another justice-bell story, from 
Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn, is given in 
the chapter on "The Poetry of Bells. '"^ 

iFrom Horace Scudder's The Book of Legends Told Over Again. 
2Pp. 404-8. 



America's early colonists were too greatly occupied 
with more serious problems to practice the bell- 
founding art, and the first bells used by the colonies 
were brought from Europe. Only a few of these 
have been preserved. In the confusion and rapid 
changes of those early days, they were lost, or broken 
by bad handling, or destroyed by fire. 

Records show that Harvard College had a bell in 
a turret in 1643.^ Reference is made to it in 1650 
in the rules and regulations of the ''tolling of the 
bell." A second bell was acquired about 1658. 
In 1667 the college had regular bell ringing, with 
specially stated times for ringing, and instructions 
as to the manner of ''ringing" and "tolling." 

Probably the oldest English bell in this country 
now is one in the courthouse at Barnstable, Massa- 
chusetts, dated 1675. ^ In 1685 William Penn 
imported a bell to Philadelphia, where it probably 
hung in the crotch of a tree and summoned the 
people to church and to other meetings. This bell 
was hung in the town hall in 1705. 

A bell now preserved in a church at Passaic, 
New Jerse}^ was cast in Holland in 1700.^ The 

lA. H. Nichols, in The Bells of Harvard College, Boston, 191 1. 
2A. H. Nichols, in New England Genealogical Register for 1916. 
^Passaic church tablet. 



original bells of Trinity Church in New York were 
cast in England about 1700, and were said to have 
been the gift of Queen Anne to that church. ^ There 
is now in Trinity Church of Newport, Rhode Island, 
an English bell cast in 1702, bearing an inscription 
which states that it was donated to the church by 
Queen Anne in 1709. It has been recast, however, 
and made much heavier than it was originally. The 
chimes of Christ Church, Philadelphia, are also 
claimed to have been a gift from Queen Anne. 
During the Revolution they were removed from the 
church and sunk in the Delaware River to prevent 
their being destroyed by the British. These well- 
known chimes are among Philadelphia's greatest 
treasures. In the Dutch Reformed Church of New 
York there is a bell cast at Amsterdam in 1731. 

A ring of eight bells was ordered from England 
for Christ Church, Boston, in 1744, and the cost 
was met by subscribers. ^ They are said to be the 
first set of bells cast for America. They were used 
for change ringing, after the English custom, as is 
shown by a circle of eight deeply worn depressions, 
noticed many years ago in the floor boards of the 
ringing chamber, where the circle of ringers stood. 
For more than a century and a half these bells have 
mingled their voices with every popular ovation in all 
public rejoicing and sorrowing. *'In 1894 the bells 
were overhauled^ and new supports, etc., provided. 

lA. H. Nichols, in New England Genealogical Register for 1916. 

2A. H. Nichols, in Christ Church Bells, Boston. 




William H. Rau 

Fig. 113. Liberty Bell, in Independence Hall, Philadelphia 


The restoration was celebrated by a memorial service 
held in the ancient church, when the pealing of the 
bells by a trained band of English ringers revealed 
to the present generation the prodigious volume and 
sweetness of their sound. No more precious heir- 
loom has been transmitted from, our forefathers, 
and it is to be hoped that they may be preserved 
for many centuries as examples of the superior handi- 
craft and kindly feeling of our English ancestors." 

By far the most famous bell in America is the 
Liberty Bell, which hangs at the head of the stair- 
way in Independence Hall, Philadelphia (Fig. 113). 
It was the first bell cast in America. It was 
dedicated to the cause of liberty, and later it actually 
''proclaimed the liberty" of the thirteen colonies. 
A writer in the New York Herald several years ago 
gave its early history as follows : 

"In 1 75 1 Mr. Speaker Joseph Parker Norris of 
the Assembly of Pennsylvania wrote to Robert 
Charles, then in London, to procure a good bell of 
two thousand pounds' weight, at a cost of about 
one hundred pounds sterling, to be cast by the best 
workmen and to contain in well-shaped letters around 
it: 'By order of the Assembly of the Province of 
Pennsylvania, for the State House in the city of 
Philadelphia, 1752,' and underneath, 'Proclaim 
Liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants 
thereof. Levt. xxv-io.' 

"The bell arrived in August, 1752, but was 
cracked while being tested, 'upon which,' writes 

272 BELLS 

Mr. Norris, 'two ingenious workmen undertook to 
cast it here, and I am just now (March 10, 1753) 
informed they have this day opened the mold, and 
have a good bell, which I confess pleases me very 
much that we should first venture upon and succeed 
in the greatest bell cast, for aught I know, in English 

''This bell was hung in 1753, but the metal was 
too brittle (so said the judges), for it cracked. 
Another was attempted, but with no better results. 
On July 8th (not 4th), 1776, it announced to all the 
world that a new republic had been born a few days 
before." When the British approached Philadel- 
phia in 1777 the bell was taken down and carried to 
Bethlehem for safekeeping. After the British left 
Philadelphia it was brought back, and it rang from 
Independence Hall for many years. 

One authority says the bell cracked when sounding 
a fire alarm; another states that it cracked in 1835 
while being tolled in memory of Chief Justice John 
Marshall, and that on February 22, 1843, the crack 
was so enlarged as to destroy the sound of the bell. 
In any case, the crack renders it useless for all pur- 
poses except as a highly treasured and nationally 
revered emblem of our liberty. 

It has been loaned to various exhibitions, and in 
191 5 it was carried across the continent to an exhibi- 
tion at San Francisco. The railway company built 
a special car for it, with buffers to prevent severe 
jolts. Greater honor could hardly have been given 



to any person than was shown to this bell when it 
arrived in San Francisco. A holiday, a great pro- 
cession, flowers, fifty thousand children singing the 
national anthem in the streets as it passed, and a 
roar of salutes from the cannon on the fleet in the 

GramstorfE Bros., Inc., Maiden, Mass. 

Fig. 114. The old belfry in Lexington, Massachusetts 

harbor! This was its last journey, for the fear of 
further accident to this great national treasure 
caused the enactment of a law to the effect that it 
should never again leave Philadelphia. 

Figure 114 shows the old belfry in Lexington, 
Massachusetts, from which the village bell rang out 

2 74 BELLS 

the alarm on the morning of April 19, 1775, calling 
the minutemen together. 

The first bell foundry in the United States was 
established by the Hanks family, ancestors of 
Abraham Lincoln on his mother's side. The first 
tower clock in New York was in the old Dutch 
Church (at Nassau and Liberty streets), and was 
built by Jonathan Hanks and operated by an 
ingenious windmill attachment. The Hanks family 
continued the making of bells through the genera- 
tions, and the art is still pursued by the present 
representatives of the family, the Meneely Bell 
Company in Troy, New York. 

The name of Paul Revere is known to all readers 
of American history as the patriot who took a mem- 
orable midnight ride to give his countrymen notice 
of the coming of the British soldiers. A few years 
after the Revolutionary War was over, Paul Revere 
built a furnace in Boston (on what is now Com- 
mercial Street) for the casting of bells. Here he 
made not only small bells, but large church bells 
also, and his business was successfully carried on 
until he died, in 1818, at the age of eighty-nine years. 
His foundry cast more than two hundred bells. 
Several of them are still in existence, though many 
have been lost, and at one time fifty of them were 
destroyed by fire. One of Paul Revere 's bells hangs 
in King's Chapel, Boston, and others in various 
churches in the country are exhibited with great 


In many of the early settlements there were no 
bells to call the people together, and various other 
signals were used. Often a drum or a horn was 
employed for that purpose. ''In 1759^ South 
Kadley, in Massachusetts, voted to have a sign for 
meeting on the Sabbath, and a large conch shell was 
procured, and for the faithful blowing thereof the 
town meeting ordered that the sum of three pounds 
should be paid yearly. 

''The following lines were written in Dorchester 
in 1 7 19: 

Well, that night I slept till near prayer time, 
Next morning I wondered to hear no bell chime, 
At which I did ask, and the reason I found, 
'Twas because they had ne'er a bell in the town. 

Later, when a bell came, it was hung on a pine tree 
until a place could be prepared to receive it. The 
bell was placed in the center of the roof, and the 
rope hung down in the broad aisle, where the ringer 
stationed himself. He remonstrated when, besides 
the nine o'clock bell every night, he was required to 
toll the day of the month. One of the Dorchester 
by-laws read : ' Constables are to take up loose people 
who do not heed the ringing of the nine o'clock bell.'" 

The antique chapel bell at Yale College was 
described as about as good a bell as a fur cap with 
a sheep's tail for a clapper! 

The chimes in the tower of St. Michael's Church 
in Charleston, South Carolina, have had a most 

iFrom Bells, an Anthology, by Mary J. Taber. 

276 BELLS 

eventful career. Their story is quoted by per- 
mission of the publishers of the Everyday Library, 
Marvels of Industry,^ as follows: ''Cast in London, 
installed in the steeple of St. Michael's Church 
in 1764. When the British evacuated Charleston 
in the Revolutionary War, they took possession 
of the bells and carried them to England. A 
merchant of Charleston bought them and sent 
them home. When they were unloaded and hung 
in the belfry, there was great rejoicing that the city 
had its voice back again. 

*'But the bells' adventures had only begun. In 
1823 it was discovered that two of them were 
cracked. After local workmen had made several 
unsuccessful attempts to restore the tones, the two 
damaged bells made a second trip to England, this 
time to be recast in their original molds. In 1839 
they were again hung in their place, and, to the great 
joy of the people, rang until the time of civil strife 
and discord came. 

''In 1862, during the bombardment of Charleston, 
the chimes were taken down and moved to Colum- 
bia, South Carolina, to escape injury, but this was 
a most disastrous move, for during the occupation 
of Columbia by Sherman's army the bells were 
burned in the fire of February 17, 1865. They 
were so loved by the people, however, that the 
precious fragments were sacredly guarded, and when 
the war was over they were sent to London to be 

^Copyright, 1916. 


recast. Strange as it may seem, the original molds 
into which they had been poured a century before, 
had still been preserved. In February, 1867, the 
eight bells came back once more to their home in 
the steeple of St. Michael. The entire set had 
crossed the Atlantic five times, and two of the bells, 
seven times. On March 21st, they rang out joy- 
ously the tune: 'Home again, home again, from a 
foreign land.' 

''Since then, they have passed unharmed through 
many dangers. In spite of a cyclone and an earth- 
quake that nearly demolished the church, they still 
swing, uninjured, high up in the steeple. 

''At the close of the eighteenth century, the 
church narrowly escaped destruction by fire. It 
was saved only by the courage of a negro sailor 
who climbed to the top of the tower and tore 
off the blazing shingles. As a reward for his bravery, 
the slave received his liberty, a sum of money, 
and a fishing boat equipped with nets." 

Among the most important of America's bells are 
those which have hung in the missions of California 
and the Southwest. When the Southwest was under 
the rule of Spain, missions were built along the 
California coast, and a line of them extended through 
a part of Texas all the way to the Rio Grande. 
No less than seventy of these missions were founded 
by the monks of the Franciscan, Jesuit, and Domini- 
can orders. The devout vSpanish monks who had 
charge of the missions had one definite purpose — 



F'iG. 115. San Luis Rey Mission, founded in lygS 

that of Christianizing the Indians and bringing them 
under the wing of the CathoUc Church. The 
patience and gentleness of the padres (as the monks 
were called), their wisdom and fair treatment of the 
Indians, and the success of their missions, furnish 
an interesting page of American history, and one 
which reflects credit upon Spain. 

One of the first Spanish missions, San Francisco 
de la Espada, founded in 1689, still stands in Texas. 
The mission of San Jose de Aguayo, also in Texas, 
was founded in 1720, and is, perhaps, the most 
beautiful of all the missions. The mission archi- 
tecture was on the Moorish style, with long arched 
porches which afforded shade from the sun. Luxu- 
rious fruit trees and shaded gardens surrounded 
them. The bell tower was a very important part of 


the mission, and it usually added much to the beauty 
of the building. 

Figure 115 shows the San Luis Rey Mission of 
California (founded in 1798) as it is now. This 
was one of the most prosperous of the old Spanish 
missions; the building is a hundred and sixty feet 
long, and its walls four to five feet thick. The 
two-story belfry contained eight bells, one in each 

The less wealthy missions were content with fewer 
bells. ''The chime of bells^ was ever an important 
feature with the padres in the founding and life of 
a mission. These bells were brought from Spain, 
and were of the best Castile metal and workman- 
ship. Their tones called the Indians to assemble 
at the mission, and marked the hours for labor. 
By the melodies which they chimed, the padres 
and their Indian followers chanted hymns of praise 
and songs of thanksgiving. Serra (the pioneer of 
the California mission founders) often said that he 
would have their ringing sound from the mountains 
to the sea, as it was God's invitation to the souls of 
heathen men and women to flee to Him and escape 
the wrath to come. These bells were of silver and 
bronze and other metallic mixtures, to give variety 
to their tones. They performed all kinds of service 
in mission work and worship, and were indispensable 
to the padres.'' 

iFrom The Missions of California and the Old Southwest, by Jesse 
Hildrup. Published, 1907, by A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago. 


2 So 


Fig. ii6. 

Putnam Studios 

The belfry of Pala Chapel, near San Diego, California 



Figure 116 shows the picturesque belfry of Pala 
Ghapel, which is, perhaps, the only one of its kind 
in the world. It is separate from the main building. 
Nature, assisted by birds, no doubt, has conspired to 
make this belfry even more picturesque by the cactus 
spire growing on its summit. 

Courtesy of The Mentor 

Fig. 117. The cross and bells of San Diego Mission, California 

In Figure 117 are seen the cross and bells of the 
first mission of California, that of San Diego, 
founded in 1769. The bells were brought from 
Spain, and hauled overland from Veracruz. They 
were at first hung from the branch of a tree until 
a permanent place was built for them. They hung 
in the original San Diego Mission until it was 



Courtesy of The Mentor 

Pig. 1 1 8. Bells of San Gabriel Mission, San Gabriel, California 

The well-known belfry of the San Gabriel Mission 
is pictured in Figure ii8. Here again is a belfry of 
an unusual type. The open arches in the masonry 
were made to suit the sizes of the bells. 

When Spain lost her holdings in America, Mexico 
assumed control of California and Texas; and in 
1833 the Mexican government confiscated the prop- 
erties of the missions. "The religion and morals 
of the missions were swept away at this time, with 
their material progress and the monuments thereof. 
The better life of the Indian neophyte passed into 
oblivion with the wreck of his mission home. The 
padres could protect him no longer. The hand of 
spoliation was laid upon the rich properties which 



the Franciscans had created through toil, privation, 
and danger. The old padres fled like the Indians. "^ 
In 1876, the hundredth anniversary of the birth 
of the republic, a bell weighing thirteen thousand 
pounds, to represent the thirteen original states, 
was cast at the Meneely foundry for the tower of 
the old State House in Philadelphia. It is called 
the ''Independence Hall Bell." Like the original 

Meneely Bell Foundry 

Fig. 119. Independence Hall hell, cast iji 1876 

State House Bell, it bears the inscription: ''Pro- 
claim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the 

^Jesse Hildrup, in The Missions of California and the Old Southwest. 
Published, 1907, by A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago. 

284 BELLS 

inhabitants thereof." It is in constant use, sound- 
ing the hours of the day (see Fig. 119, p. 283). 

Another bell of national interest is the ''Colum- 
bian Liberty Bell," cast in 1893 for the World's Fair 
at Chicago, and made to be rung only on the liberty 
anniversaries of the nation. It is estimated that 
more than two hundred thousand people of America 
contributed to the making of this bell by giving 
either money or pieces of gold and other jewelry. 
Some gave valuable relics, gold watches and even 
wedding rings and thimbles, and hundreds gave 
silver spoons. Over two hundred and fifty thou- 
sand pennies were sent in. These were all melted in 
the bell metal. The inscription runs: "Glory to 
God" and "A new commandment I give unto you, 
that ye love one another." 

The four bells that ring the chimes from the 
Metropolitan Clock Tower in New York are known 
as the world's highest bells. They are mounted on 
pedestals between the columns outside the forty- 
sixth story of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower 
(see Fig. 120), and were placed in position 650 feet 
high, in 1909. They ring the famous Cambridge 
Quarters,^ though in a much lower key than the 
original. The largest one weighs three and one-half 
tons and strikes the hours as well as its part in the 
chime. The sound of the four bells is heard many 
miles out at sea, and inland also. They were made 
at the Meneely foundry. 

iSee p. 166. 




i» tif fff 

f« !* «^^ 

Fig. 120. r/^e Metropolitan Life Insurance Building^ New York. 

The chime consists of four hells, weighing respectively seven thousand, 

three thousand, two thousand, and fifteen hundred pounds, and timed 

to D fiat, Eflat, F fiat, and G. 



Courtesy of Springfield Chamber of Commerce 

Fig. 121. Bell tower of Springfield, Massachusetts, containing a 
chime of 12 hells placed 247 feet above ground 


There are many rings of excellent chimes in the 
United States, some of them cast at the Meneely 
Bell Foundry in this country, and others imported 
from abroad. Not only the churches, but many 
universities have been provided recently with chimes 
for daily and weekly ringing. Cornell University 
has a chime of fourteen bells; the University of 

Meneely Bell Foundry 

Fig. 122. The chimes in City Hall Tower, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

California, twelve bells; the State College of Iowa, 
ten bells; the University of Chicago, ten bells; 
West Point Military Academy, twelve bells; and 
doubtless many other colleges and universities 
are supplied with chimes. Figure 122 shows a 
chime of ten bells in the City Hall Tower of 
Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

No attempt will be made here to list all the church 
chimes in the country; there are too many. The 


John Taylor & Co. 

Fig. 123. First carillon made for the United States, cast 
at the Taylor foundry for Gloucester, Massachusetts 

Photograph by Curtiss 

Fig. 124. Carillon of St. Peter's Church, in Morristown, 
New Jersey 


most famous chimes in the New York City churches 
are those of St. Patrick's Cathedral (nineteen bells), 
Trinity Church, and Grace Church, which has six- 
teen bells. 

America's carillons 

The interest of the American people in bell music 
has already led to the building of many "singing 
towers," as Mr. Rice calls the carillon towers, and 
the founding of many carillons. Unfortunately, the 
bell makers of this country have not yet practiced 
the art of carillon making, and all our carillons are 
at present imported from one of the two English 
foundries at Croydon and Loughborough. 

The first city in America to obtain a fine modern 
carillon was Toronto, Canada. The first carillon 
in the United States was hung in the Church of Our 
Lady of Good Fortune at Gloucester, Massachusetts, 
and dedicated in 1922. A picture of the bells before 
they left the Loughborough foundry may be seen in 
Figure 123. 

The same founders made a carillon of thirty-five 
bells for St. Peter's Church in Morristown, New 
Jersey, dedicated in 1924. Figure 124 shows these 
bells as they hang in the church tower. The key- 
board of this instrument is shown in Figure 86.^ 

The largest carillon in the world at present (fifty- 
three bells), and said by many to be the most per- 
fectly tuned, was made in 1925 at the Croydon 

iSee p. 191. 



foundry for the Park Avenue Baptist Church in 
New York City. It was given by John D. Rocke- 
feller, Jr., in memory of his mother. Before the 
carillon left the English foundry it was set up with 
its keyboard and all the wire connections, and 
was played by different carillonneurs of Europe. 

Fig. 125. Chevalier JefDenyn, famous carillon player of St. Romhold's 

Cathedral, Malines, Belgium, testing the set of 53 hells to he 

sent to the Park Avenue Baptist Church, New York 



Figure 125 is a photograph of Mr. Denyn, world- 
renowned carillonneur of Mechhn, at the keyboard, 
testing the bells before they were shipped to America. 




I la^ 









1* *' 


K^-~-^- - JB 





Fig. 126. Largest bell of New York's carillon of 53 hells 
on its arrival at the dock in New York City 

Figure 126 shows the largest bell of the carillon on 
its arrival at the dock in New York Harbor. This 
is the largest bell in the United States, and weighs 
nine tons. Its tone is low E. The smallest bell 

292 BELLS 

of the carillon is high A, and weighs only fifteen 

The bells were hung in the summer of 1925 in 
the tower of the Park Avenue Church where, for 
several months, superb evening concerts were given 
by Anton Brees of Antwerp. These concerts were 
heard not only by great throngs in the streets, but 
were broadcast by radio and enjoyed by the people 
of distant cities in their own homes. This carillon 
will later be removed to the tower of the new church 
on Riverside Drive, with the bell chamber three 
hundred feet from the ground. The bells will be 
heard many miles away, and will probably be heard 
at their best from boats on the Hudson River. 

During the past few years carillons have been 
acquired also by Plainfield, New Jersey (23 bells); 
Andover, Massachusetts (3 7 bells) ; Cohasset, Massa- 
chusetts (43 bells) ; Birmingham, Alabama (25 bells) ; 
Detroit, Michigan (28 bells); Cranbrook, Michigan 
(30 bells), and St. Chrysostom's Church, Chicago 
(43 bells). There is also a carillon at Princeton 
University, and other educational institutions are 
planning to have them. Albany, New York, is to 
have forty-two bells in the City Hall Tower. Two 
other carillons are planned for New York City, and 
Washington, D. C, is to have three. Mercersburg, 
Pennsylvania, will soon have one of forty-three 
bells, and Germantown, Pennsylvania, one of 
thirty-five bells. In fact, according to William 
Gorham Rice, America's foremost carillon authority, 


'* there is every indication that in two years' time 
this country will have twice as many carillons of 
large compass and perfect tune as are to be found in 
either Belgium or the Netherlands. 

''Even before the New York carillon is moved to 
its new home uptown, Ottawa, Canada, will have 
equally noble bells in a tower already constructed, 
at a height no less. The fifty-three bells of this 
memorial crowning the Victory Tower of the new 
Houses of Parliament will be slightly heavier than 
those in the Park Avenue carillon. New York. The 
commanding situation of this Canadian tower, set 
on a picturesque bluff above the Ottawa River, 
together with the surrounding open space, the 
dignity of the belfry itself, and the beauty of the 
whole group of buildings of which it is a part, com- 
bine to place it in the very front rank of the singing 
towers of the world." 



From the earliest ages bells in China have been 
the most esteemed of instruments. They were used 
as standards for the tones of the Chinese scale, and 
'$, is said that the bell was the first instrument to 
be played at musical performances. 

Supposedly in the year 2697 B.C., or thereabouts, 
the Emperor Hoang-ti ordered Ling-lun to make 
a standard by which the tones of the scale might 
be fixed. These tones, the Chinese claim, had been 
given to their ancestors by a phoenix bird which 
was born in the heart of the Sacred Fire. There 
are many legends told of how he acquired the various 
pitches that were to form the pattern for the scale, 
and no two of these legends seem to agree. After 
he had established these tones, however, Ling-lun 
went back to the emperor's court and there fixed 
the pitch of each note in the Chinese scale. Musical 
stones were tuned and bells were made according to 
this official pitch, so that the scale might be easily 

Chao-hao came after Hoang-ti, and originated the 
custom of marking the divisions of the night by 
strokes of a drum. Chao-hao also had made a set 
of twelve copper bells, to represent the twelve divi- 
sions of the year. 



In the year 2284 b.c. Emperor Chun estabhshed 
uniformity of weight and measure, as well as uni- 
formity of the musical scale throughout the empire, 
and tried to have all the bells in the empire made 
so that their tones were in correct relation to each 

Yu the Great, who reigned long before the time of 
Confucius, made use of some of the musical instrur 
ments of that day in a very wise and practical way. 
Wishing to deal justly with his subjects, and to be 
easily accessible to all of them, he had five instru- 
ments of percussion placed outside the gate of his 
palace. These instruments were to be struck by 
anyone who wished to speak to the emperor, the 
different ones to be used according to the nature of 
the business with the sovereign. These instruments 
were a large bell, a small bell, a gong, a drum, and 
a tambourine. If the applicant wished to complain 
of injustice, he rang the large bell; if he wished to 
see the emperor on private or confidential business, 
he rang the small bell. If he wished to report a 
public or private misfortune, he struck the gong. 
The drum was to signify a message concerning the 
manners of the empire; and when the tambourine 
was used, it meant that an accusation of crime was 
appealed from some lower tribunal to the judgment 
of the emperor. 

In about 245 b.c. the emperor of that time com- 
manded all ancient books to be burned, excepting 

works on agriculture and medicine. New models 

296 BELLS 

were designed for musical instruments, and new 
standards for the pitch of notes; and all musical 
instruments were ordered to be destroyed and made 
over after new models. The bells which had, up 
to that time, given the standard pitch, were melted 
down, and the metal in many of them was used to 
make colossal statues to deck the entrance to the 
imperial palace. 

Some of the bells, however, were saved. It 
seems that the emperor's decree was more rigor- 
ously carried out with respect to books than to 
musical instruments, and many of the bells and 
musical stones escaped destruction by being buried 
in the earth, whence they could later be exhumed, 

Then came a long period in which music and the 
other arts in China made little progress. 

Under the Song dynasty (about a.d. 960 to 1279) 
music took a new impetus. Many books were 
written, but there was so much uncertainty about 
the ancient music (which, in Chinese eyes, was the 
only correct music) that there was much confusion, 
and apparently no way in which the matter could 
be adjusted so that the musicians could agree. Very 
few considered the bells which gave the official 
scale to be correct. So a new set was made, and 
this new set pleased the emperor so much that he 
ordered his own official bells to be melted and recast. 
The musicians were not at all pleased with the new 
system, and determined that all trace of the ancient 


scale should not be lost. So they connived with 
some of the officials, and when the bells were removed 
from the tribunal of music and rites one complete 
set, instead of being thrown into the furnace as the 
emperor had ordered, was buried in the courtyard 
of the palace, and long afterward exhumed. 

The Chinese very early acquired great skill in the 
making of bells, and it is quite possible that the art of 
bell founding began with these people, and from 
the East extended into Europe. There are now in 
China perfect bells which were cast many centuries 
before the Christian era. The bell and the caldron 
were considered the most valuable treasures among 
the bronze vessels in China. 

It is a notable fact that many of the Chinese 
bells, both ancient and modern, are made with a 
hole in the top, and it has been claimed that this is 
the reason that they never crack. 

Their bell metal is six parts of copper and one of 
tin. When melting,^ the alloy appears to be of an 
impure dark color, soon changing into a yellowish 
white, which gradually passes to a greenish white, 
and when this last has become green the metal is 
ready to be poured into the mold. Most of the bells 
of China are ornamented, some with characters, 
some with dCvSigns and symbols. 

The Chinese foundries are not only prepared to 
make bells of all sizes, but other bronze figures. 
A French missionary who visited some of the 

iVan Aalst, in Chinese Music. 

298 BELLS 

foundries in Tartary years ago, wrote: "The 
magnificent statues in bronze and brass, which issue 
from the great foundries of Tolon-noor, are cele- 
brated not only throughout Tartary, but in the 
remotest districts of Tibet. Its immense work- 
shops supply all the countries subject to the worship 
of Buddha, with idols, bells, and vases, employed 
in that idolatry." 

In ancient times the Chinese employed a bell for 
the same purpose for which we use a tuning fork or 
pitch pipe ; and this bell served also to give two other 
standards besides that of tone. Being somewhat of 
a cup shape, it was used as a measure for bulk (as 
we use quart measures) ; and being heavy, it was 
used as a standard for weight. One specimen of 
this triple-standard bell (for tone, bulk, and weight) 
appears to have been kept in a royal hall or temple, 
to be referred to whenever desired as a standard for 

Although the original use of bells in China was 
for tone and other standards, they very soon came 
to be used, either singly or united into chimes, in 
court and religious ceremonies, and their use gradu- 
ally pervaded Chinese life in general. 

The Chinese name for bell is tchung or chung. 
There are two general classes, those with clappers 
and those without. The name chung usually refers 
to the kind requiring to be struck from the outside. 
Most of the oldest Chinese bells had no clappers. 
They had not the round form of our present bells, 



many of them being nearly square in shape. Some 
of the finest of the ancient bells are oblong, and 
oval-shaped at the lip. 


At an early period the Chinese had a somewhat 
square-shaped bell called the te-ckung. It was also 
known by the name of piao, and was principally 

Fig. 127. Pien-chung, or chime of 16 bells 

used to indicate the time, and divisions in musical 
performances. It had a fixed pitch of sound. 
When a single bell was used, it was suspended in 
a frame. 

The pien-chung (see Fig. 127) was an arrangement 
of sixteen te-ckung or piao attuned to a certain order, 
their tones corresponding exactly to the tones of 
the pien-king, an instrument made of musical stones. 
These two instruments are always found together in 



the Confucian temples. They are necessary one 
to the other; the bell chime sounds, and the stone 
chime replies. 

The po-chung (see Fig. 128) is a single bell sus- 
pended upon a frame, and corresponds to the 

Fig. 128. Po-chung 
tse-king, or single sonorous stone. When this bell 
sounds, the tse-king must answer. There are twelve 
of them, corresponding to the twelve lus, or standard 
tones of the ancient Chinese, and are intended to 
meet the changes of key which occur according to 
the seasons. At the Confucian ceremonies the 
po-chung is placed outside the temple on the right 
of the "Moon Terrace." It has to give the note at 
the beginning of each verse, in order to ''manifest 



the sound" (or give the pitch), by being struck 
with a wooden hammer. During the Middle Ages 
it was called sung-chung.^ Figure 129 shows a 
remarkable Chinese jade po-chung from the Field 
Museum, Chicago. 

A very ancient form of 
bell is the hiuen-chiing, of 
peculiar oval shape, with 
crescent mouth (see Fig. 
130, p. 302.) It was orna- 
mented with symbolic 
figures in four divisions, 
each containing nine 
raised knobs of metal. 
Every figure had a deep 
meaning referring to the 
seasons and to the mys- 
teries of the Buddhist re- 
ligion. The largest hiuen- 
chung was about twenty 
inches long. This instru- 
ment was sounded (as was 
the te-chung) by means 
of a small wooden mallet 
with an oval knob. It is 
said that the raised knobs 
of metal on these bells 
were made so that, bv 

Fig. 129. 

Courtesy of Field Museum 

Po-chung made of jade 

striking them successively with a wooden mallet, the 

iVan Aalst, in Chinese Music. 



notes of the entire musical scale could be obtained. 
According to tradition, the hiuen-chung was included 
with the antique instruments at the time of 
Confucius, and again came into popular use in the 

Han dynasty (from 200 B.C. 
until 200 a.d). This instru- 
ment has long since passed 
entirely out of use. Ten very 
beautiful specimens of the 
hiuen-chung are photographed 
and described in a handsome 
volume in the library of the 
Metropolitan Museum, and 
one who reads Chinese char- 
acters may find out all about 

Fig. 130. Hiuen-chung The yung-chung is a large 

bell in the temple of Confucius which, the Chinese 
say, is made to correspond with the very big drum. 
The one is not used without the other. The drum 
gives the signal to begin, and the bell announces 
the end of the hymn at the ceremonies. It is inter- 
esting to note that the Chinese use, in so many 
instances, their musical instruments in pairs, — bells 
and stone instruments, or drums and bells, balanc- 
ing each other. 

None of the large metal bells in China at the 
present day have clappers. They are meant to 
be struck from the outside, usually by the ends of 
long beams hung by chords or chains. When a 



priest strikes a large bell with this battering-ram- 
like hammer, there is given off a deep majestic boom 
which may be heard for miles around. The sound 
is made more solemn and impressive by the use of 
the wooden beam instead of an iron clapper. 

Figure 131 shows four different kinds of temple 
bells with their stands; Figure 132 (p. 304), a 
temple bell from an ancient temple, Chen-seng. 
These Chinese temple bells may be seen in the 
Crosby-Brown collection of musical instruments 
in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. 


Metropolitan Museum 

131. Chinese temple hells in ornamental stands 


At an early period the Chinese had some kind of 
bell with a wooden clapper or tongue. This bell, 



called to, was used for military purposes, and for 
calling the people together to hear the commands 
of the emperor as announced by his herald. It is 
recorded that Confucius wished to be ''a wooden- 
tongued bell of heaven," meaning a ''herald to pro- 
claim the divine purposes to the multitude." One 
would judge that the wooden tongue must have 
brought out the best tone of the metal, since the 
Chinese used it for such noble purposes. But at 
present, it is said, the to is used only by ''bronzes 
to mark the rhythm of their prayers." Not only 

'iJ^'Jr i!^^^ 3B»tt 



^•'ll' ■— ^ 



Fig. 132. Lotus-shaped bell from an ancient ~ 
Chinese temple 

the priests in the temple beat upon wooden bells 
as they pray, but beggars also tap small wooden 



bells as they go from house to house saying their 
Buddhist prayers and asking alms. 

The wei-shun (see Fig. 133) is a very ancient bell 

Fig. 133. The wei-shun, ceremonial hell used 
in the Temple of Ancestors 

of the Chou dynasty. ^ Its shape was somewhat 
like that of a balloon, and it was hung singly upon 
a frame. The wei-shun was used mostly for the 
ceremonies in the Temple of Ancestors, where it 
corresponded to a kind of drum which is no longer 
to be found. It has been said that this instrument 

iVan Aalst, in Chinese Music. 

3o6 BELLS 

is simply a large bell with small round bells sus- 
pended in it to act as a tongue, the sound produced 
thereby being exceedingly shrill. 

It must have been bells with clappers which were 
used as justice bells by the Chinese. It is said that 
during the ninth century these bells were used in all 
parts of China (the custom having started with Yu 
the Great, many centuries before), and two Arabs 
who traveled through China in that century have 
given us an account of them. In every town there 
was a large bell fastened to the wall above the head 
of the prince, or governor, and to the bell was 
fastened a rope a mile or so in length. This rope 
was laid so temptingly along the thoroughfare that 
the humblest sufferer from injustice might pull it 
without fear. When the bell rang, the governor 
sent for the petitioner, and demanded just treat- 
ment for him. Even above the head of the emperor 
himself such a bell was hung, and he who rang it 
without good cause was thoroughly switched. ^ 

This custom of using justice bells was probably 
adopted by some European countries in later times, 
as is indicated by such legends as "The Bell of 
Atri"2 and ''The Stone of Gratitude. "^ This is 
only one of the many ideas which are often accredited 
to Europeans, but which were really original with 
the Chinese. 

Another tongued bell of China is the feng-ling, 
or wind bell. Small wind bells are hung at the 

iW. S. Sparrow, "A Dissertation on Foreign Bells," in the Magazine 
of Art, 1894. 2 See p. 404. 3 See p. 266. 



eaves of houses and pagodas, and made with Hght 
silk streamers hanging to their clappers so that the 
softest breeze swings the clappers and awakens the 
musical sounds. For the sake of this pleasing 
effect, wind bells are often hung in halls and cor- 
ridors. The pagodas have them hanging from their 

Fig. 134. A Chinese bell tower 

roofs, and as there are many corners to the roofs 
of most pagodas, there is an opportunity for great 
variety in the tones which one little breeze may 
evoke. On the famous Porcelain Tower in Nanking 
(built b}^ Emperor Yung-lo in the fifteenth century; 
destroyed in 1853), which was built of white bricks 
and had the appearance of porcelain, a number of 
bells with clappers were fastened to the projecting 

308 BELLS 

corners of its different stories. In the Chinese bell 
tower shown in Figure 134 (p. 307), the wind bells 
at the corners of the roof may be seen. 

One writer describes a Chinese pagoda in the 
vicinity of Shanghai, octagonal in shape, and con- 
sisting of eight stories, each of which '4s provided 
with a covered veranda having a projecting roof, 
at the corners of which are hung small bells of 
different tones, and as there are sixty-four of them, 
which are kept in almost constant motion by the 
wind, the sound they produce is exceedingly pleasing, 
greatly resembling the wild melody of the Aeolian 
harp." The bell is still the never-failing adjunct 
of the pagoda; and bells, either real or imitated, 
form a very common architectural ornament for 
the shop or joss house. 

Bells are found hanging in the temples and bell 
towers in all parts of China, They are of all sizes, 
ranging from a few inches in diameter to the enor- 
mous bell in the temple at Peking. ^ 

Not only are bells used in the temples and shops, 
but also at home, where even the baby wears little 
jingling bells fastened to his garments. In the 
streets bells are used in processions of all kinds. 
Sometimes many bells are carried on one large 
frame; or perhaps they hang by dozens round the 
waists of the dancers, to increase the deafening noise 
of drums and gongs and crackers. 

iSee next chapter, p. 310. 



The Chinese claim to have possessed bells even 
before they had a knowledge of how to hang them. 
This important secret (according to the legend) was 
unfolded for them by a monkey with a forked tail 
which enabled him to acquire the habit of hanging, 
during the rainy seasons, upon a limb of a tree, with 
a fork of his tail in each nostril, thus completing the 
circle. Some of the very ancient bells, when hung, 
somewhat resembled swinging animals, and this 
resemblance probably gave rise to the legend. 

The most popular legends, however, are formed 
about the great bells. The two largest bells in 
China (at Peking and Canton) are even yet believed 
by the superstitious to have miraculous power. 

A native account of Canton states that Canton's 
"tabooed bell," as it is called, was cast about the 
middle of the fifteenth century; but because of 
a prophecy which foretold calamity to Canton when- 
ever it should give forth sound, it was deprived of a 
striker, and all means of access to it were removed. 

Finally, one day, a rash official directed a man 
to strike it. " No sooner had its reverberating boom 
been heard, than upwards of a thousand male and 
female infants died within the city." As the people 



explained it, evidently some evil spirit had been 
irritated by the bell being rung. So in order to 
ward off his influence, or appease his wrath, infants 
have ever since worn bells upon their clothing. 

Another incident has been related of how the 
prophecy held good at a much later period. When 
the English forces were bombarding Canton, in 
1857, it was suggested to the commander of one of 
the English ships to aim a shot at the bell. The 
result was that the unwonted boom was heard 
again, a portion of the lower rim of the bell was 
fractured, and calamity, indeed, befell the city. 

During the reign of Yung-lo (1403-142 5) of the 
Ming dynasty the capital of China was moved from 
Nanking to Peking. In order to make Peking a 
city worthy of the glorious presence of the emperor 
and his court, stately buildings were erected, and 
lookout towers were built on the outskirts of the 
city. One of these was the Drum Tower, fur- 
nished with an enormous drum of such size that 
"the thunder of its tones might be heard all over 
the city, the sound being almost enough to waken 
the dead." 

Another one of these lookout towers was the 
Bell Tower which was to have a bell to correspond 
with the monster drum. Yung-lo ordered five great 
bells to be cast, and the bell which still hangs in 
this tower is one of them. It weighs forty tons, 
and hangs one hundred and thirty feet above the 
street level. It is nmg every evening at 8:30, 

china's big bells and their legends 311 

when the watch is changed, and can be heard in all 
parts of Peking (see Fig. 135, p. 313). 

The most famous bell in China is the one which 
hangs in a Buddhist temple called the Big Bell 
Temple, west of the city of Peking (see Fig. 136, 
p. 313). This also is one of the five bells which 
Ytmg-lo ordered to be cast. Its weight is claimed 
by some writers to be fifty-three tons; by others, 
sixty tons. It is fourteen feet high, thirty-four 
feet in circumference at the rim, and eight inches 
thick. The bell has no clapper, but is struck with 
a wooden hammer on the raised square which may 
be seen in the picture, — and is struck only upon 
imperial order. It was cast about 1420 where it 
now stands. The ground was excavated from 
beneath it, and later it was covered with a temple. 

There are five volumes of the classics inscribed 
upon the bell, covering it, inside and out, with 
Chinese characters. It is said that this voluminous 
inscription was not cut, but was cast with the bell.^ 
If so, it was indeed a remarkable casting. It is a 
common belief in Peking that if any foreigner should 
succeed in translating this inscription, the bell 
would melt immediately. 

There are many varian 01 the legend connected 
with the Great Bell of Peking, but they are all 
centered around the ever popular idea in China 
that self-sacrifice is necessary to insure some public 
good. It seems that Yung-lo ordered a mandarin 

iCarl Crow, Handbook for China, Shanghai, 1921. 

312 BELLS 

named Kuan-yu to cast a bell which, upon the least 
alarm, could be heard all over the city. Two 
attempts were made to carry out the order, at inter- 
vals of some months, but without success. In both 
cases the casting was ''honeycombed." The en- 
raged emperor declared that if the third attempt 
failed he would behead the unfortunate Kuan-yu. 

''Now Kuan-yu had a beautiful daughter, aged 
sixteen, named Ko-ai, to whom he was tenderly 
attached, and who did all she could to comfort her 
distressed parent. One day it struck her that she 
would go to a celebrated astrologer to ascertain the 
cause of her father's failures, and what means could 
be taken to prevent their recurrence. From him 
she learned that the next casting would also be a 
failure if the blood of a maiden were not mixed with 
the ingredients. She returned home full of horror 
at the information, but resolved to immolate herself 
sooner than that her father should fail." 

Ko-ai obtained leave from her father to be present 
at the casting, and the catastrophe is thus described : 

"A dead silence prevailed through the assemblage 
as the melted metal once more rushed to its desti- 
nation. This was broken by a shriek and a cry of 
'For my father!' and Ko-ai was seen to throw her- 
self headlong into the seething, hissing metal. One 
of her followers attempted to seize her while in the 
act of plunging into the boiling fluid, but succeeded 
only in grasping one of her shoes, which came off 
in his hand. 


Fig. 135. The hell which 

hangs in the Bell Tower in 

Peking, cast in the fifteenth 

century. It weighs 40 tons 

Fig. 136. The'' great bell ' ' of 
Chi?ia, in the Big Bell Temple 
west of Peking, cast about 
1420. It weighs 5J tons, or 

314 BELLS 

"The father was frantic, and had to be kept by 
force from following her example. He was taken 
home a raving maniac. The prediction of the 
astrologer was verified, for on uncovering the bell 
after it had cooled, it was found to be perfect; but 
not a vestige of Ko-ai was to be seen. The blood 
of a maiden had indeed been fused with the ingre- 

The sequel recounts how the sonorous boom of 
the bell, when struck, was followed by a low, wailing 
sound like the cry of a human female voice in great 
agony, distinctly saying the word hsieh, the Chinese 
word for shoe, a sound still heard after every stroke; 
and to this day people, when they hear it, say, 
''There's poor Ko-ai calling for her shoe." 

The above legend is sometimes told in connection 
with the Tower Bell. This is only a recent asso- 
ciation, and the legend properly belongs to the great 
Temple Bell. 

The belief regarding the miraculous power of the 
Peking bell is more mild than the uncanny power 
attached to the Canton bell. It is believed that 
if the great Temple Bell in Peking is struck by 
an unauthorized hand it will at once bring down 
unneeded rain. N. B. Dennys wrote, ^ in 1875, 
that when he and some friends visited the great Bell 
Temple outside the city, the priests refused to strike 
the bell lest the rain god should be offended. A 
small present from one of the party, however, 

iln "Folk Lore of China," in China Review. 


induced them to let the visitors draw back the 
heavy wooden ram which did duty as a clapper. 
Strangely enough, as the first blow was struck a 
heavy rainstorm came on, and the shaven-pated 
attendants roared out in high glee, "We told you 
so!" For once, says Mr. Dennys, superstition 
carried the day. 



Travelers have written much about the "great 
bell of Kyoto," a mass of green bronze that hangs in 
the Jodo temple of Chion in Kyoto. It is the second 
largest bell in Japan, and one of the great bells of the 
world (see Fig. 137). The bell tower which houses 
it was completed just before the bell was cast, in 
1633, and was partl}^ restored in 191 1. The bell is 
ten feet, ten inches high, nine feet in diameter, 
eleven inches thick at the lip, and weighs seventy- 
four tons. Near it hangs a long tree trunk, clamped 
with bronze and iron, which is used to bring forth 
the tone of the bell. The great beam is pulled back 
and allowed to hurl itself against the bell on the 
rebound. It is said to require seventy-five men to 
ring it so that the full effect of this great mass of 
metal is obtained. 

The largest bell in Japan (and the second largest 
in the world) was cast in 1902 for the ancient Bud- 
dhist temple, Shi-tenno-ji. It hangs ten feet from 
the belfry floor, is twenty-six feet high, thirty-four 
feet in circumference, sixteen feet across the mouth, 
eighteen inches thick at the rim, and weighs over 
one hundred and fifty-five tons. It is inscribed with 
extracts from the Buddhist classics and the names 
of people who contributed to the expense of its 




casting. Its voice shatters the air for miles around, 
but the tone is not good. Some one has said that 
it ''sounds hke the crack of doom accompanied by 
a milhon angry bees heard through a megaphone." 
Its only claim to fame is its colossal size. 

One of the oldest and finest bells in existence is 
at Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. Near the 

Courtesy of Asia 

Fig. 137. The "great bell of Kyoto" 



Second Moon Temple (dating from 750 a.d.) stands 
a time-worn belfry which contains this monster bell, 
cast in 732, when Shomu was on the throne. It 

is thirteen and one-half 
feet high, over nine feet 
in diameter, ten inches 
thick at the rim, and 
weighs forty-eight tons. 
It is a companion piece 
to the great bronze Bud- 
dha. Its tone is very 
fine, and we still marvel 
at the art which produced 
it. Pilgrims who wish 

Fig. 138. Ancient Japanese bells ^q J^gar the tone of the 

bell have been allowed, upon payment of one sen, 
to swing the great beam which strikes it. 

Another large bell is that of Engakuji in Kama- 
kura, made in 1301. It is about eight feet high, 
six feet in diameter, and its metal is six inches thick. 
This bell, like most Japanese bells, has almost the 
same diameter from top to bottom. It hangs from 
massive timbers in an open belfry on a hillside. 
The metal is a lovely hue of green, with an inscrip- 
tion in Chinese. This bell is also rung by a rope 
which swings a beam, and the beam (when swung 
with sufficient velocity) strikes a lotus molding on 
the side of the bell, and "a great note quivers forth, 
deep as thunder and rich as the bass of a mighty 
organ." In former days this bell was supposed to 


be the dwelling place of a spirit, and the bell was 
considered sacred. When its thunder rolls into the 
valleys, and throbs and quivers between the hills, 
one can understand the spirit superstition. 

The temple of Zozoji and its belfry were burned 
in 1874 by a fanatic incendiary. For two hundred 
years the great bell had summoned the people to 
their devotions and sounded alarms. ''On the 
night of the fire the old bell ringer leaped to his post, 
and in place of the usual solemn monotone, gave 
the double stroke of alarm, until the heat had 
changed one side of the bell to white, the note 
deepening in tone, until in red heat, the ponder- 
ous link softened and bent, dropping its burden to 
the earth."! 

Long ago, bells came with Buddhism from China 
to Japan. Many old bells have been dug out of 
the ground in Japan which have the indications of 
being very ancient, and may have been brought from 
China. Figure 138 shows drawings of two ancient 
hanging bells, and Figure 139 (p. 320) another 
antique bronze bell. 

It is said that the Koreans were Japan's teachers 
in bell founding, though the Chinese also claim that 
honor. Certainly some of the finest bronze gongs 
and bells in the world are from old Korea, brought 
to Japan by Japanese pirates who ravaged the 
Korean shores. Figure 140 (p. 321) shows a very 
ornate Korean bell in Japan. 

1 William E. Griflfis, in The Mikado's Empire. 



Wherever the Japanese learned the art, in their 
hands bells have become remarkable specimens 
both in construction and decoration, and may easily 

be classed among 
the finest in the 
world. The success 
of their ancient cast- 
ings (the Nara bell, 
for instance) is one 
of their unexplained 
achievements. "In 
Europe^ the method 
of producing a really 
fine toned bell was 
evolved by ages of 
empirical trials; but 
in Japan, bells of 
huge size and exqui- 
site note were cast in 
apparent defiance of 
the rules elaborated 
with so much difh- 

Metropolitan Museun. ^^^ • ^ ^ „ 

An antique bronze hell -^ 

from Japan Such bclls are found 

in the temples and swing in handsome belfries 
throughout the countr}^. 

During the Middle Ages "the casting of a belP 
was ever the occasion of rejoicing and public festival. 

Fig. 139. 

iBrinkley's History of the Japanese People. 
2From The Mikado's Empire, by Griffis. 



When the chief priest of the city announced that one 
was to be made, the people brought contributions 
in money or offerings of bronze, gold, pure tin, or 
copper vessels. Ladies gave, with their own hands, 
the mirrors which had been the envy of lovers, 
young girls laid their silver hairpins and bijouterie 
on the heap. When 
metal enough in due 
proportion had been 
amassed, crucibles 
were made, earth fur- 
naces dug, the molds 
fashioned, and huge 
bellows, worked by 
standing men at each 
end like a see-saw, 
were mounted; and, 
after due prayers and 
consultation, the aus- 
picious day was ap- 
pointed. The place 
selected was usually 
a hill or commanding 
place. The people, 
in their gayest dress, 
assembled in picnic 
parties, and with song 
and dance and feast, 
waited; while the workmen, in festal uniform, toiled; 
and the priests, in canonical robes, watched. The 

Courtesy of Asia 

Fig, 140. A Korean bell from the 
island of Kyushu. Japanese 
pirates who ravaged the shores of 
Korea in the olden times brought 
back bells to Kyushu as trophies 

32 2 BELLS 

fires were lighted, the bellows oscillated, the blast 
roared, and the crucibles were brought to the proper 
heat and the contents to fiery fluidity, — the joy 
of the crowd increasing as each stage in the process 
was announced. When the molten flood was 
finally poured into the mold, the excitement of the 
spectators reached a height of uncontrollable enthu- 
siasm. Another pecuniary harvest was reaped by 
the priests before the crowds dispersed, by the sale 
of stamped kerchiefs or paper containing a holy 
text, or certifying to the presence of the purchaser 
at the ceremony, and the blessings of the gods upon 
him therefor. Such a token became an heirloom; 
and the child who ever afterward heard the solemn 
boom of the bell at matin or evening, was constrained 
by filial as well as holy motives, to obey and rever- 
ence its admonitory call." 

The belfry was usually a separate building, apart 
from the temple, and often the roof and cornices 
were very elaborate. The beam of wood, or tree 
trunk, which struck the bell, swung loosely on two 
ropes or chains. In nearly all bells of Japan there 
was a raised spot upon which the blow was supposed 
to fall. After each blow the bell man held the beam 
on its rebound, until the bell almost ceased to vibrate 
(see Fig. 141). The tones thus produced were (and 
are) more impressive than the European bell tones, 
though the variety in tempo and expression practiced 
by European bell ringers is not possible with the 
Japanese mode of ringing. The Japanese love the 



solemnly sweet sound of their temple bells, and 
regard them as dear and sympathetic friends. 

H. W. Colby 

Fig, 141. The Japanese metJwd of striking a large bell. A medallion 
is cast in the hell at the spot where hell and striker meet 

Another frequent adjunct to the Japanese bell is 
the dragon which usually surmounts the bell, and 
forms the hook by which the bell is hung. In fact 
the hook is called riud-zu, or dragon's head. 

The Japanese employ large bells in their Buddhist 
worship. The priests also use small bells while 



officiating in the temple, as is also the case in China, 
Tibet, and other Asiatic countries. Figure 142 is a 
bronze temple bell in the Metropolitan Museum. 

Not only in the tem- 
ples have bells been used, 
but also to serve purposes 
of ordinary life. In the 
seventh century laws 
were enacted to keep the 
upper classes from op- 
pressing the lower classes. 
The use of public horses 
was not permitted except 
by one who traveled on 
state business. Every- 
one who had a right to 
use the public -service 
horses w^as required to 
show a token of his right 
by carrying small bronze 
bells, and the shape and 
number of his bells 
showed how many horses 
he might rightfully use. 
Jingle bells were also used as pennants for horse 
trappings, even in those early days. 

When temple bells came into existence^ "the 
hours were struck on them for public information. 
The method of counting the hours was influenced 

iBrinkley's History of the Japanese People. 

Metropolitan Museum 

Fig. 142. A bronze temple hell 
from JapafZ 


by the manner of striking them. Whether bronze 
bell or wooden clapper was used, three preliminary 
strokes were given by way of warning, and it there- 
fore became inexpedient to designate any of the 
hours one, two, or three. Accordingly, the first 
number was four, and the day being divided into 
six hours instead of twelve, the highest number 
became nine." 

The Japanese pilgrim who climbs Fujisan rings 
a long-handled bell as he climbs, and chants an 
invocation which says: ''May our six senses be 
pure, and the weather on the honorable mountain 
be fair." 

A string of bells is at all times worn about the 
ankles of the dainty Japanese dancing girl. It is 
a symbol of her profession, which she never lays 
aside. This practice has suggested the proverb, 
"You have tied on the bells," which means, ''The 
die is cast." 

Bells with fish pendants are very much in evidence 
in Japan and Korea on May 5, the boys' Flag Feast, 
and on other holidays. These bells have each a 
swinging fish attached to the clapper, so that when 
a breeze strikes the fish it makes the bell ring. 



There are several legends connected with the 
bell at Engakuji. Once a king's son named Sadotoki 
became a priest and wanted very much to have a 
large bell for the monastery. So he traveled in 
great state to the shrine of Benten and implored 
the goddess there to tell him how he could obtain 
a bell. 

''Go, Sadotoki," she said, ''and explore the lake 
beyond the temple." Sadotoki did so, and found 
at the bottom of the lake a great quantity of metal. 
This was brought to land and used to make the 
great bell of Engakuji. 

Some two hundred years later the bell was mirac- 
ulously given the power to toll of its own accord, 
when no human being was near. Anyone who 
doubted this power of the bell was doomed to be 
attended by bad luck and evil fortune. But all 
who believed this with proper faith and reverence 
were sure to meet good fortune and prosperity. 

In the village of Tamagawa lived a man whose 
name was Ono. While he was still a young man 
Ono fell ill and died, and descended to the under- 
world, into the presence of Enma, Lord of Death. 

"Why do you come here, Ono? You are still 
young, and have not lived out the span of years 



planned for you. Go back to the upperworld, and 
finish your work." Ono repHed, "It is impossible, 
Enma. Alas ! I know not the way, and I cannot find 
the road in the shadows." Then Enma instructed 
Ono, saying: ''Go from here to the south. There 
you will hear the sound of a deep-toned bell. It 
will be the great 'bell at Engakuji, whose sound- 
waves penetrate even into the darkness of the 
underworld. Follow that sound, Ono. It will lead 
you safely to the upperworld of living men." 

So it did; and Ono took up his life again with his 
family. From that day to this, he and his descend- 
ants have cherished a deep reverence and affection 
for the bell of Engakuji, whose ringing had guided 
homeward the lost soul of Ono. 

One of the Japanese legends is very similar to 
the Chinese story of the Great Bell of Peking. It 
runs thus: "A Japanese bell founder was bidden to 
cast a new set of bells which were to give forth the 
sweetest tones ever rung from a bell, and to this 
end they were to be cast of mingled metal, gold and 
silver. The bell founder melted the metals together, 
but for some reason they would not blend. Hotter 
and hotter he made his furnace, but all in vain; 
the metals, though molten, kept distinctly separate. 
Then a sage told him that only when the metals 
were fused within a maiden's glow, would they blend. 
The bell founder's daughter, who had followed her 
father, always watching in anxiety his weary disap- 
pointment, heard the words of the sage, and flung 


328 BELLS 

herself into the melting pot. The gold mingled 
with the silver, and the silver with the gold, and the 
bells were cast. When taken from their molds they 
were smooth, coherent, and well tempered; then 
they flung out upon the air notes so sweet and 
strong that all men paused at their work, and even 
the children at their play, to listen to their entrancing 

Another legend seems to explain the presence of 
the dragon on the top of nearly all Japanese bells. 

It seems that a Buddhist priest left his temple 
one day, and happened to see a beautiful tea-house 
girl who lived across the river, and fell in love with 
her. The priest conquered his love, but unfortu- 
nately not until after he had won her affection in 
return. The girl was grieved to lose her lover, and 
tried in every way to win him back. But she failed. 
So she went to a magician and implored him to 
teach her how she might become a serpent in order 
to work her revenge. After months of practice, she 
finally learned how to convert her lovely body into 
a great, scaly monster which shot fire from its nos- 
trils. Now she was ready for her vengeance. 

On some pretext she inveigled the priest to come 
across the river, and tried her utmost to win his love 
again. When this failed, presto! a great hissing 
serpent writhed before him! In terror the priest 
fled, swam across the river, and hid in the big temple 
bell. But the serpent came right behind him, and 
crawled up the bell. The weight of the monster 


broke the bell down from its hangings; but, still 
poised on the top of the bell, the serpent, with its 
fiery breath, melted the metal until the poor priest 
beneath it became a part of the molten mass. The 
writhing form of the serpent seems to appear on 
the top of almost every bell in Japan. 

Several legends are told of the bell at Mii-dera. 
Once there lived on the wooded heights of Hiei-zan 
a giant called Benkei. A great fighting giant he 
was, whose greatest ambition was to capture a thou- 
sand knights and keep their swords. One day he 
went down the hill to Mii-dera and stole the great 
bell out of the temple there. He put it on his back 
and started off toward Hiei-zan with it. As he 
toiled wearily along over the hills he came to a 
temple and, being very tired, he asked the priests 
for refreshment and permission to rest for a while. 
The priests offered their hospitality, and the giant 
sat down at once and swallowed the contents of a 
soup kettle five feet in diameter. After this he felt 
somewhat friendly, and offered to let each one of 
the priests strike the bell once. Cautiously the 
first priest came near the great giant and gave a 
tap to his bell. Instead of his usual boom, there 
came from the bell the sound of a human voice 
saying, "I want to go back to Mii-dera." Each of 
the priests struck it in turn, and every time it said, 
*'I want to go back to Mii-dera." The perplexed 
giant tried it himself, and the only response to his 
heavy blow was the shout, "I want to go back to 

330 BELLS 

Mii-dera!" and Benkei, in great wrath, kicked the 
bell down the hill. Down it rolled, bumping over 
great stones and roots and bushes, and knocking 
against the sides of trees, all the time clanging out 
its cry of ''I want to go back to Mii-dera! I want 
to go back to Mii-dera!" so loud that people from 
Mii-dera heard it and rushed out in time to see their 
beloved bell come plunging down the hill! 

The monks of the temple tried their best to lift 
the bell, but it was too heavy. As they were dis- 
cussing the ways and means of getting the bell hung 
up in the temple again, Benkei appeared in the form 
of a great knight eight feet tall, and offered to hang 
the bell in its place if the monks would feed him 
all the soup he could eat, cooked in a caldron the 
size of the bell. The monks agreed, and Benkei 
lifted the bell to its accustomed place. Then he 
began his feast, and did not stop until he had eaten 
all the food in the monastery. As he drained the 
last drop of soup from the caldron he bit into the 
iron rim, and the dent of his teeth may still be seen 
in this great caldron, still preserved at the Mii-dera 

The bell, also, carries to this day the dents and 
scratches in its surface which it acquired in the 
plunge down the rough and wooded hillside. 

This same bell at Mii-dera has, in its side, a dent 
which, they say, appeared when the metal shrank 
from the touch of a vain and presumptuous woman. 
The bell was once a woman hater, and would allow 


no woman to touch it. Women might admire it 
from a distance, but none were bold enough to 
incur the bell's displeasure by coming near enough 
to touch the metal. Finally, one day, there came 
a very beautiful woman to look at the bell, and also 
to look at her own lovely face as it was reflected in 
the shining surface of the bell. The bell looked so 
warm and friendly, and her own image was so lovely, 
that she thought surely the bell must be kindly 
disposed to her, at any rate, even if not to other 
women. She could not resist the impulse to touch 
it, gently, with one finger. At once there was an 
angry clang, and the bell quivered away from her 
finger, that spot lost its brightness, and a dent was 
left in the metal as a reminder to all Japanese dam- 
sels who may wish to meddle with things too sacred 
for them. 



India also claims to have used bells long before the 
Christian era. Small bells found in ancient burial 
mounds in India indicate their great antiquity in 
that country. Figure 143 shows a bell with a 
clapper attached to it found in a very ancient cairn. 
It had been cast, and was of good finish when found, 
and the metal is even yet very resonant. Two 
others (Figs. 144 and 145) found were of wrought 
copper, and were evidently used as cattle neck bells. 

According to Hindu history, Krishna, one of the 
principal deified incarnations, was once a cowherd, 
and for this reason the cowherds have been highly 
privileged characters among the Hindus. The 

Fig. 144. A wrought copper 
bell found in a cairn in India 

Fig. 143.^ A cast bronze bell 
found in a cairn in India 

iFigs. 143, 144, and 145 are from Transactions of Royal Irish Academy, 
Dublin, 1874. 




Fig. 145. A 
wrought copper 
bell found in a 
cairn in India 

Hindus have their sacred herds of cattle, and each 
herd has its queen cow, which is looked upon as a 
sacred object by the people and is known from the 
rest by a bell attached to its neck. 
The milk from this cow is so revered 
that the common people will not 
touch it. These animals are generally 
mottled black and white, the udder 
being black. When an animal of this 
color is born, the natives do not keep 
it, but give it away to the Brahmin 
priests, either when young or after 
it has grown up. The animal itself 
is also privileged, and petted by all, 
and allowed to roam and browse 
wherever it wishes without molestation. Every 
morning before the temple doors are opened, this 
sacred cow, with the bell suspended from its neck, 
is led forth by the Brahmin priest to the front of 
the sacred portals. No mortal dare peep into the 
sanctum sanctorum of the temple before this highly 
revered animal has first viewed the deity and the 
interior of the temple; after which the doors are 
thrown open, and the regular morning service begins. 
Cows do not thrive in the trying climate of the 
hills in southern India, so the hill tribes, or Todas, 
keep buffaloes instead, and look upon the buffalo 
with the same reverence that the northern Hindus 
look upon the cow. With the Todas the buffalo 
is the focus of all village life. Milk is the divine 

334 BELLS 

fluid, and the buffalo the chief gift of the gods and 
the fountain of all milk. Hence the care and milk- 
ing of these animals and the charge of the dairy are 
among the highest and most respected of offices. 
No Toda will eat buffalo flesh. 

Among these people the bell which is (for a short 
time only) hung around the neck of the sacred 
buffalo is worshiped as a god. It is called Hiriadeva, 
or "bell god." 

Every village does not own a bell, but certain 
bell cows of the sacred herds only, which are attached 
to the holy Mands or tirieris (holy place). One to 
three bell gods belong to each Mand having from 
ten to sixty cows (buffaloes). The bell cows are 
not selected, but are the descendants in direct 
female line from certain originals whose history has 
been lost. If a mother should leave no female 
descendant, a bell cow would be procured from one 
of the other Mands; or the holy Mand would be 
broken up, and the entire herd joined to that of some 
Mand still possessing a bell cow. 

A new bell cow is installed or dedicated in the 
following manner. Twice a day, morning and eve- 
ning, for three successive days, the priest with his 
right hand waves the bell round and round the head 
of the bovine heiress, talking to it meanwhile after 
this manner : 

"What a fine cow your mother was! 
How well she supported us with milk ! 
Won't you supply us in like manner? 


"You are a God amongst us! 
Don't let the tirieri go to ruin ! 
Let one become a thousand ! 
Let all be well ! 
Let us have plenty of calves ! 
Let us have plenty of milk!" 

During three days and nights the bell is kept fas- 
tened around the cow's neck. On the morning of 
the fourth day it is removed from her neck and 
lodged in the priest's house, or in a niche in the 
temple. It is never worn again during that cow's 

No one but a priest is allowed to touch the bell 
or even to see it. And though the common people 
may not look upon it, they pour out libations of milk 
to it and pay it great reverence. These bells origi- 
nally came from Amnor, and are of great antiquity. 
Their age adds to the veneration which they inspire 
among the Todas. 

Bells not only identify the sacred cattle, but also 
hang in the Hindu temples where those who pray 
may call the attention of the gods by beating upon 
the bells which hang from the temple roofs. They 
are used extensively in Hindu ritual, being employed 
at intervals to attract the attention of the worshipers 
and to emphasize certain parts of the ceremonies. 

The little hand bells or ghuntas which the Brahmin 
priests use have a counterpart in the sanctus bell 
of the CathoHc Church. The ghuntas have been 
used from time immemorial, and are often elegantly 




146. A bell with a Hindu 
deity for a hatidle 

Metropolitan Museum 


147. A bell from India 
formed of a cobra and 
a lotus flower 

Metropolitan Museum 



ornamented. The pre- 
vSiding deity or his em- 
blem is usually worked 
into the ornamentation. 
A Hindu deity forms the 
handle of the bell in Fig- 
ure 146. The snake (co- 
bra) is frequently found 
curled around the base, 
the head forming a can- 
opy (see Fig. 147). 

Monkeys fill a most 
important place in the 
poetry, mythology, and 
religion of India. Many 
of the bells of India 
embody representations 
of the legendary monkey 
god, Hanuman. Figure 
148 shows a prayer bell 
with an elaborate handle 
full of symbols. The fig- 
ure of Hanuman on the 
handle is supposed to 
add greatly to the power 
and efficacy of the bell 
when it is rung before 
the image of this mon- 
key god. Long before 
they were known in 

From a drawing by Mignon HofFner 

Fig. 148. A prayer hell of India, 
with a monkey god for a handle 

338 BELLS 

Europe, bells were used in Hindu temples to frighten 
away evil spirits. So that idea was probably not 
original with our Anglo-Saxon ancestors. 

In India the elephants wear bells. They are often 
made of very hard wood, and each bell has two hard- 
wood clappers tied outside the bell. A cord runs 
through the clappers and the bell, and is tied around 
the elephant's neck. As he walks, the clappers 
beat against the side of the bell. Metal bells are 
also employed. Elephants are used in India for 
service, as we use horses. They are turned loose 
at night to forage for themselves, and if it were not 
for the bell which each elephant wears, the native 
would not be able to locate his elephant in the jungle 
next morning. It is said that every elephant driver 
knows the tone of his own elephant's bell, and that 
he never makes the mistake of hunting down the 
wrong animal. In Ceylon elephants are trained to 
work in the lumber industry, and here, too, bells 
are worn on their necks. 

These elephant bells are also useful in keeping 
away bears and other wild animals. A case is 
reported^ ''where an isolated camp had been repeat- 
edly attacked by bears, which were with some diffi- 
culty driven off. The servants eventually adopted 
the habit of carrying an elephant bell in their hands, 
which so alarmed the bears by the supposed presence 
of elephants, that they retired from the vicinity of 
the camp altogether." 

iR. T. Kelly, in Burma Painted and Described, London, 1905. 


All the cattle in the field also wear bells. These 
are sometimes made of bronze, but usually of hard- 
wood, "made in the form of an oblong box in which 
hang four or more clappers. These serve the double 
purpose of locating the cattle as well as frightening 
away the snakes as they browse." Sometimes 
bells are fastened to the horns of bullocks, and hang 
between the animals' eyes. 

Fig. 149. Wind bells of Burma 

As in other countries, bells have a part to play 
in the social life of the people of India. Like the 
dancing girls of Japan, those of India also wear bells 
as a symbol of their profession. A string of small 
brass bells is tied around each leg immediately 
beneath the ankle. 

Small wind bells, resembling those of China, are 
also popular in India. A group of these bells, with 
their silken "sails," may be seen in Figure 149. 

340 BELLS 

The bull carts and peddlers' horses of India have 
bells to announce their coming; and the "magic 
show" on the street collects its audience, not by 
signs or advertising, but by ringing a bell in front 
of the tent. 



Bells are dear to the heart of every Buddhist, 
and the Burmans (people of Mongolian blood living 
in the eastern part of India) are very fond of huge 
ones. The casting of a large bell has been for a 
long time a favorite way of "winning merit," for 
which the Burmese hope to gain reward in a future 
existence. It is a ceremony of religious importance, 
and great preparations are made for it. Burmese 
bells^ "are cast by the ancient and artistic method 
known as cire -perdu. When some wealthy man has 
decided to 'win merit' by presenting a bell to the 
pagoda, the occasion is one that interests the whole 
neighborhood. The great clay model is made, 
coated with wax, and covered on the outside with 
a layer of clay. The crucibles containing the bub- 
bling amalgam of copper and tin are placed upon 
the open furnaces around. Bands of musicians fill 
the air with music, and songs are sung in chorus by 
the crowd; the excitement and enthusiasm become 
intense; women take off their golden bangles and 
necklaces and throw them into the melting pots; 
the hot metal hisses and splutters as it is poured 
into the mold, the melted wax flows out, and the 
bell is cast. The Pali inscription, in which the 

^Picturesque Burma, by Mrs. Ernest Hart. 


342 BELLS 

donor's name, his works of charity, and his hopes 
of reward are set forth, is then chiseled in the 

In all Burmese pagodas bells figure largely, and 
some of the temples have more than one large bell. 
In the Shwe Dagon Pagoda at Rangoon, for instance, 
there are bells in every corner of the temple. Some 
of these bells are of enormous size, covered by a 
handsome pyathat, which is a canopy of several roofs 
one above the other, diminishing in size toward the 
top, and finally ending in an elongated finial. Other 
bells of smaller size hang out in the open, suspended 
by handsome metal work between highly ornamented 
posts. Beside each bell there usually hangs a deer's 
antler with which to strike it. When Buddhists 
pray, it is their custom to strike the ground and the 
bell in alternate strokes, in order to call the attention 
of the ' ' Nats ' ' of the under and upper worlds to their 
act of piety. 

In one of the corners near the Shwe Dagon 
Pagoda is the shrine of the great bell, or Maha 
Ganda, ''the great sweet voice," fourteen feet high, 
over seven and a half feet in diameter, and with 
metal fifteen inches thick. It is said to weigh over 
forty-two tons. Pali inscriptions cover its surface. 
In 1579 an Italian traveler wrote of having seen this 
bell, saying that at that time no one remembered 
where it came from, or how it came there; and that 
"there was no nation that could understand its 


Near another comer of the platform of the Shwe 
Dagon Pagoda hangs another large bell weighing 
over eleven tons, which has had a very interest- 
ing history. During the war of 1826 the British 
conquerors seized this bell when they captured 
Rangoon, and tried to transport it to Calcutta. 
The boat upon which the English had placed it 
capsized in the Rangoon River, and the bell fell to 
the bottom. All their efforts to raise it were futile, 
and it was finally abandoned. 

Some years later the Burmese asked if they might 
have the bell if they could get it out of the river. 
The official reply was, "1/ you can raise it, you may 
have it." After immense efforts, the huge mass of 
metal was at last lifted and borne away in triumph 
to their sacred pagoda, where it remains as a lasting 
tribute to Burmese determination. 

Conflicting reports have been given as to how the 
bell was removed from the river. One writer* (in 
1827) relates that the natives raised the bell *'by 
attaching two cables to it, which at low water were 
made fast to a brig moored over it. When the tide 
rose, so did the bell, and it was hauled ashore." 

A recent writer says: ''Now the Burmese had 
no heavy tackle; but they had a small idea whose 
application solved the problem. They made a 
heavy disk of solid teak, the exact size of the bell's 
greatest diameter at the lip, and fastened it firmly 
to the other end, or ear of the bell, and in that man- 
ner made a double wheel of it. They were then able, 


344 BELLS 

by passing ropes around the center, to roll the bell 
out of the river and replace it on the temple plat- 
form. "^ 

This story has been told of the great forty- two 
ton bell, Maha Ganda, but it is a mistake. It was 
the eleven-ton bell that was dropped in the river. 

Even the Maha Ganda is small compared to the 
Great Bell of Mandalay, or the Mingon Bell. It is 
located on the bank of the Irrawaddy, almost oppo- 
site the city of Mandalay. The bell is twelve feet 
high to the crown, and twenty-one feet high to the 
top of the monsters. Its diameter is sixteen and 
one-quarter feet at the lip, and it weighs between 
eighty and ninety tons. It is the third largest bell 
in the world, and for a hundred years was second 
only to the Great Bell of Moscow. 

The Mingon Bell was cast toward the end of the 
eighteenth century by order of King Bodoahpra, who 
wished to be remembered as the king who had built 
the largest pagoda and cast the largest bell in Burma. 
King Bodoahpra 's reign is famous as having extended 
over thirty-six years, and his memory is revered as 
the sovereign during whose time Burma flourished 
and extended its limits to distances never before 
attained. It is said that in the masonry of the 
enormous unfinished pagoda near the bell, lie 
entombed a hundred images of solid gold, life size, 
each image representing one of the members of King 
Bodoahpra 's family. The story relates that the 

^Walter Del Mar, in The Romantic East, London, 1906. 



members of the royal family (sons and daughters) 
amounted to ninety-nine, and that the king was 

Fig. 150. The Great Bell at Mingon, Burma, before it was lifted 
obliged to adopt one child into his household to 
make up the round number of one hundred. 

There was an old prophecy to the effect that the 
completion of the Mingon Pagoda would bring dis- 
aster to King Bodoahpra's dynasty. So it was 

346 BELLS 

never finished. In 1838 the shock of an earthquake 
brought the edifice to a heap of ruins. At the same 
time, the supports of the bell gave way and it sank 
to the ground, and remained in that position for 
half a century (see Fig. 150, p. 345). It was originally 
suspended on three massive beams of teak, placed 
horizontally, one over the other. At some time 
during the last half century it was raised and stones 
inserted below the lip. In recent years it has been 
lifted so that it swings free, and an ornamental shed 
has been erected over it. 

In the temple at Moulmein low bronze bells stand 
at each corner for the people to smite with staghorns 
when they come to pray. Near the Moulmein 
Pagoda a famous bell hangs from a beam supported 
by four pillars. The Burmese, in order to protect 
this bell from their European aggressors, have placed 
a threat on the inscription. Besides an inscription 
in Burmese characters, there is a sentence in poor 
English, running thus: ''This bell is made by 
KooNaLinnGahjah the priest, and weighs 600 viss 
[about 1,100 pounds]. No one body design to 
destroy this bell. Maulmain March 30, 1885. He 
who destroyed this Bell, they must be in the Great 
Heell, and unable to coming out." 

Another bell in front of an adjacent shrine bears 
this inscription: "Maulmain 6th March 1887 at 
2 P.M. cast a bell by the name of Madoothara made 
in the quiet reign of Queen Victoria. The dimen- 
sions 3 ft. 6 in. in diameter 4 ft. in height 10 ft. 6 in. 


in circumference 4 inches in thickness weight 1028 
viss. . . . Do not destroy this tremendous bell." 

In an obscure temple in the northwestern part of 
India there is a large bell about three hundred years 
old, made in Burma, and almost covered with an 
inscription in Burmese characters. Figure 151 
shows the bell, and Figure 152 shows a part of the 
inscription which gives the story of why the bell 
was cast. 

It seems that early in the seventeenth century the 
king of Pegu, invaded by his neighbor, the Burmese 
ruler of Pugan, called upon his ally, the king of 
Martaban, for help. After gaining his object and 
driving out the invader, the king of Pegu then tried 
to destroy his ally. But he became justly the vic- 
tim of his own treachery, and was defeated by the 
Martaban king, who took possession of Rangoon, 
''the abode of royalty, learning, jewels and war- 
riors." Later Martaban, having established peace 
among the people whom he had conquered, had this 
bell, weighing about 3,130 pounds, cast to serve as a 
justice bell for the people, and a ''w^ork of merit " for 
himself. The Burmese inscription, when translated, 
thus describes the conflict and the events that follow : 

"When the king of Martaban arrived in the 
kingdom of Pegu, he mounted the elephant Airawon, 
and attacked the armies of Pagahm with such firm- 
ness and resolution that it was impossible for them 
to withstand the shock. The king of Martaban, 
with his nobles, generals and victorious army 


Fig. 152. Burmese inscription on 
the above hell which relates the 
story of why the hell was cast 

Fig. 151. A Burmese hell, 

found in India, cast ahout 

three hundred years ago 

cw^yoSwS: c«o£|M^iioo5lii 080511 -qooiioooiio 
cc»D aiCoo5cooo(£:c§<Soocp: fc^j^oqiSoo^gSg^ 
5@@^co5goo3^o§(fi^oqia5i. c»«^o5g1joeoc«g 
^@:ooScciS:9oqca)oco^?; cjpSoSooo cgoenococo 
ooo5cco5c§(3o85:o(S£ji;o:cp»i>DOcoc8ajcp: leg; 

sdd: aDo5ca)oo^ooo:c^(S@3:c5;|[9l^:dlcSii "do^^ll 

cp: @oq(^:«<S: Soqcp:a>D:cc3oSc§:coo5o§TOO:93s| 
codi cjjea3^a6Ss5sx3cpoo«o:yo34sDoSo30^ 
§oq|(?co^?ca»cosj)oooogf5o1s3cdl(S: o^ssotssa 

«3o5aooSci§§cooo(S : coooo:^ocfioooc§|col : oo^Q 
*5^o§^oo5p: aooSdl: ogo^g^c^pdifoog^ca 
osggoocp: »oSc51 : c^o^a^Scaoofcooocoooa^jOsg 

?Ml^o1c§CCO0ll II^OTJOOC^dll qCJp<?g^(S02<?ll g^ 

f oo?ncooo(Sqgii? : d^cooo ng^o^fsssyc^ nj^sglf ooSii 


returning, were met by the king of Pegu mounted 
upon the elephant Vopantatha, surrounded by the 
chiefs and armed divisions of his royal forces. The 
king of Martaban, distrusting Pegu, and seeing 
himself surrounded by his army, began to tremble 
for his hfe, and he therefore vowed that should he 
be delivered, he would give charitably to religion; 
then having mounted his elephant Airawon, he 
assembled his generals and set his troops in battle 
order. The two armies being now engaged, the 
king of Pegu riding upon his elephant Vopantatha, 
was charged by the monarch of Martaban, seated 
upon the elephant Airawon. The tusks of the 
former elephant being broken in the encounter, 
he (Pegu) was unable to sustain the fight, and turned 
and fled, upon which the army of Pegu was defeated, 
and his nobles and generals destroyed. . . . 

''Having banished the evil doers, Martaban ruled 
over the country in peace. . . . The inhabitants 
of the whole earth enjoyed the light of his wise 
administration of the laws. In like manner as the 
stars are illuminated by the brightness of the full 
moon, so the king desired to see his nobles and 
warriors and his subjects, in number more than a 
hundred thousand, increase their riches in propor- 
tion to his own prosperity. The king by means of 
his ten royal virtues increased in benevolence. . . . 

' ' Sometime during the season Ganthayedda, when 
the king reclined upon the royal couch and pleasure 
filled his breast, he reflected upon the just laws of 

3 so BELLS 

the world, and thought it would be right to erect a 
statue of the deity in the country of Pegu, and 
establish for the people a true system of justice that 
they may neither fear nor hate him, but bear him 
in respectful remembrance, and for this purpose he 
determined to cast a bell and place it beneath a 
double roof [belfry or temple] that the people might 
give notice of their wrongs by striking it, the sound 
of which reaching his ears, he would be enabled to 
redress their wrongs. 

''He therefore expended a thousand vis of pure 
silver in the construction of this bell. 

''On Monday, the twelfth day of the waxing of 
the moon of July, three hours and a half after the 
rising of the ninth sign of the zodiac, in the year 984 
[agreeing with a.d. 1622], the king caused this bell 
to be cast, its weight being 8,254 vis, and it was 
placed beneath a double roof. From the time of 
its being so made and suspended, the people have 
struck it upon the occurrence of any injustice, the 
sound of which, having been heard by him, he has 
directed justice to be properly administered. The 
people of the countr^r perceiving, felt as if washed 
with water [abuses abolished]. 

"If this bell be destroyed, let future monarchs 
repair it; to this end I have made it, that the 
people might obtain justice, and that I might obtain 
Nibban, and all ages till that time the laws might 
be duly administered. This work of merit I have 



Bells have a religious significance in all countries, 
and in most of them bells are particularly associated 
with religious ceremonials. They were used in Asia 
in religious worship long before the Christian era, 
and travelers have been struck with the similarity 
of the ceremonials in the oriental temples with those 
of Catholic churches. The early Christians exorcised 
devils with bells, and still find them indispensable. 
The Russians are especially reverential to bells. 
Brahmins, Buddhists, Confucianists, all use bells; 
and even the Mohammedans who do not use bells 
lest they disturb the peace of departed souls floating 
in the air, give them at least some considera- 
tion, for the Koran says that bells hang on the 
trees of Paradise and are set in motion by wings 
from the throne of God as often as the blessed wish 
for music. 

The superstitious beliefs among European Chris- 
tians concerning bells have been mentioned in a 
former chapter. Bells seem to be particularly fitted 
to the nurturing of superstitions among all kinds of 
people, both savage and civilized. To the present 
day, the Chinese frighten av/ay, by the united aid 
of bells, gongs, and kettles, the terrible dragon which 
occasionally attempts to devour the moon. 




Fig. 153. Bronze prayer hells of the Chinese 

Amulets and charms worn about the person are 
of great importance to the Chinese, and the most 
common of all are the little bells worn by Chinese 
children, especially in the southern provinces. The 
origin of the custom as regards Canton has been 
given on page 310, but Dennys^ says: '*A belief in 
the occult qualities of bells is so widespread that 
considerable doubt may reasonably exist whether, 
even if the legend be true, the Cantonese did not 
merely amplify an existing practice by way of 
appeasing the demon of the bell. It is, at all events, 
strange that our own ancestors should have credited 
bells with possessing occult powers to aid mankind 
in their combat with the spirits of darkness, while 
the Chinese propitiate the same enemies by wearing 
models of bells upon their clothes. But a yet more 
odd coincidence is found in the sixty-six bells attached 
to the ephod of the Jewish High Priest when engaged 
in sacerdotal ministrations." 

In almost all Buddhist monasteries a bell is tolled 
by the monks both morning and evening. These 
regular tollings comprise a series of 108 strokes. 

iln "Folk Lore of China," in China Review. 


"This number^ represents the 12 months of the year, 
the 24 divisions of the year as to sun position, and 
the 72 divisions of the year into terms of five days, 
making a total of 108. It is the whole year which 
is thus entirely devoted to the honor of Buddha. 

''The manner of ringing these 108 strokes varies 
according to different places. The following are a 
few ways : At Hang-chow the tolling is regulated by 
the following, which has become a popular tune : 

** At the beginning, strike 36 strokes; 
At the end, still 36 again; 
Hurry on with 36 in the middle; 
You have in all but 108, then stop. 

**At Shao-hsing another quartet has the following: 

** Lively toll 18 strokes; 
Slowly the 18 following; 
Repeat this series 3 times, 
And 108 you will reach. 

**At T'ai-chow, we find the following ditty: 

"At the beginning strike 7 strokes; 
Let 8 others follow these ; 
Slowly toll 1 8 in the middle ; 
Add 3 more thereto; 
Repeat this, series thrice; 
The total will be 108. 

"Although the manner of ringing differs according to 
different places, it is fancied everywhere that the 
sound of the bell procures relief and solace to the 

^According to Henry Dore, in his Researches into Chinese Superstitions. 

354 BELLS 

souls tormented in the Buddhist hell. It is thought 
that the undulating vibrations, caused by the ringing 
of the bells, provoke to madness the king of the 
demons, T'oh-wang, render him unconscious, blunt 
the sharp edge of the torturing treadmill, and also 
damp the ardor of the devouring flames of Hades. 

''At the death of the first Empress Ma of the 
Ming dynasty, every Buddhist monastery tolled 
thirty thousand strokes for the relief of her soul, 
because, according to Buddhist doctrine, the de- 
parted, on hearing the ringing of a bell, revive. It 
is for this reason that the tolling must be performed 

One Chinese writer, however, seems to have little 
patience with this point of view, and in a work 
entitled Buddhist Names he says: ''The bell is a 
hollow instrument ; the larger it is, the deeper are its 
sounds, but who could cast one large enough to make 
its tollings heard in the infernal regions? Even 
should that happen, such a sound is but a mere 
empty noise, incapable of awing the ruler of Hades, 
and powerless also to break the sharp-edged tread- 
mill which tortures the damned. Wealthy families, 
desirous of rescuing from hell the souls of their 
ancestors, offer presents to the Buddhist monas- 
teries in order that the monks would toll the bells 
unceasingly day and night, and perform this service 
even for several successive days. They may toll 
them till they deafen the ears of the neighbors, who 
curse and swear at them; and they may ring till the 



bells burst, they will never thereby rescue a single 
soul out of Hades. It matters little whether they 
toll a brass bell or strike on a wooden one, the 
result is practically useless in both cases." 

The religion of Burma is 
Buddhism in its purest form. 
Its acme of human happiness 
is found in Nirvana, a state of 
passive existence free from all 
passions and cares, "to attain 
which the soul has to go 
through an endless transmi- 
gration of ever improving ex- 
istence." To attain a better 
position in the next stage of 
life is possible only by doing 
some work of merit. Such a 
work of merit consists in erect- 
ing a pagoda or a shrine, or 
donating a bell to the temple, 

or something else of public Metropolitan Museum 

utility. Hence the generous F-,^^54jj7«-t;,,t 

and gorgeous offerings the 

Buddhists are always willing 

religion. The numerous bells in the temples and 

the monster bells outside the temples are evidences 

of the Burmese belief that the donation of a bell is 

a real public service and a ''work of merit." 

An invocation to Buddha is a favorite inscription 
for bells. At the door of each Buddhist temple is 

India during prayer 

to make for their 

356 BELLS 

a bell which the believers strike when they enter the 
temple, in order to * ' call the attention of the sleeping 
gods." Beside each bell in the temple is a deer's 
horn to be used in striking the bell, and whenever 
the worshipers pray they strike the bell, to make 
sure that the gods notice their acts of piety. 

''The bell^ is almost as characteristic a symbol of 
Buddhism as is the seated figure of Buddha himself. 
It varies, in the different Buddhist countries, with 
the temperament and tastes of the people. In 
Burma, where even Buddhism turns to sunshine and 
to prettiness, and the towers of the temples evapo- 
rate in lacework and jewelry, the bells, glittering 
with precious stones, hang in clusters from an 
umbrella-like top of the pagoda spire and ring 
at their own sweet will. In the temple courts of 
Rangoon and Mandalay there is a continuous 
symphony of tinkling and chiming things — dainty, 
casual, wayward. 

"But the bells of China and Korea and those of 
Japan are more grandiose and sober. To the 
Japanese the temple bell is, in a sense, the voice of 
Buddha. Like the stained-glass windows of Euro- 
pean cathedrals, Japanese bells are storied records 
of their temples and their times. They bear 
inscriptions by famous poets and scholars; they are 
molded into a wealth of symbolism. And around 
them cling, like moss and flowers that have over- 
grown the woodland Buddhas of Nikko, legends and 

iMarjorie Barstow Greenbie, in an article on the "Bronze Voices of 
Buddha," in Asia, January, 1921. 


tales and history that Hve on the Hps of generations 
who have dwelt in the shadow of some great bell 
and whose lives have been unconsciously attuned 
to its grave and sober harmony. 

*'Yet, though the imagination of the people clings 
around it, the temple bell seems to speak most 
eloquently from lonely places, from the heart of 
monastic woods, from heights to which the con- 
templative may withdraw for meditation. It has 
none of the familiar and sociable character of the 
occidental church bell. Though Christianity, like 
Buddhism, has tmderstood the value of the bell, 
the difference between the bells of the East and 
West is typical of a difference in the genius of the 
two faiths. In the cities of England and northern 
Europe the bell is first to speak out on any occasion 
of special significance to the people. It announces 
funerals, weddings, fires, and wars. It is at its best 
in the expression of communal joy. The very 
method of ringing — in carillons, chimes, and joyous 
changes — makes it seem a representation of many 
voices raised in a chorus of gladness. 

"The Buddhist bell has none of these social char- 
acteristics. It could hardly quicken its deep tone 
to speak of joy. It seems a voice apart from tem- 
poral things, cognizant only of eternity and Nirvana. 
Yet on any occasion of general sorrow its accent — 
tranquil, remote, unhurried — may be immeasurably 
consoling. An American who lived in Kobe while 
the epidemic of influenza was at its worst, often 

358 BELLS 

Speaks of the comfort he felt in the sound of the 
temple bell from the hill. All day he saw the pro- 
cession of the dead pass his house, and the smoke of 
the crematories dimming the sky; but every night 
at nine o'clock the great bell spoke out — serene and 
gracious on the evening air — and its grave voice 
seemed to be saying: 'Fret not; for all this passes. 
It is well.'" 



The magnificent buildings of the ancients which 
gave us so much of architectural beauty in other 
respects, had no towers. Compare the Temple of 
Karnak, the Parthenon, or the Temple of Theseus 
with the Antwerp and Cologne cathedrals (see 
Figs. 91, 15s, and 156). 

After Christian church bells came into use, towers 
(from which the bells could be more easily heard 
by the people) began to develop, and Christian archi- 
tecture took on a distinctive form. The bell rooms 

Gramstorff Bros.. Inc. Maiden, Mass. 

Fig. 155. The Temple of Theseus, Athens 
24 359 



Fig. 156. Cathedral at Cologne. Germany 



on the church roof have gradually become higher 
and higher, more and more perfect in form, graceful 
spires and other ornamental features have been 
added; and thus we owe to 
bells most of the famous towers 
of the world. All art is, in 
some sense, the outgrowth of 
practical usage, and ''bells 
were not made for towers, but 
towers for bells." The watch 
tower and the church belfry 
are the two useful objects 
which have contributed most 
to the development of architec- 
ture in the cathedral form ; and 
even if bells had given us no 
more than this, we should hold 
them in great honor for what they have done for the 
architecture of the world. 

It is said that belfries first came into use in the 
ninth century, when Alfred erected a tower for the 
bells at Athelney. The first churches were probably 
low and unadorned, with a raised ''lantern" on the 
roof to throw light into the center of the building. 
Later on, the bell tower, "that unequaled source of 
character" to the church, was perhaps seldom 

Figure 157 is a drawing from a tenth-century 
manuscript showing one of these little bell 
towers on the roof of a church. The bells are 

From a tenth-century MS. 

Fig. 157. A bell tower on 
the roof of a church 



shown exposed to the open air, that their sounds 
might be heard as far as possible. The Httle cock 
is placed above for vigilance. 

The use of the bell tower was recognized in the 
ancient Saxon law which gave the title of thane to 

Fig. 158. A thirteenth-century belfry over 
chancel arch at Ahercorn 

anyone who had on his estate a church with a bell 
tower. Many of these early bell towers remain, 
and several of them are picturesque and dignified 
(see Figs. 158 and 159). Some of the towers were 
attached to the church, and others were entirely 
separate from it. 



Pig. 159. A Saxon bell tower of the tenth century at EarVs 
Barton, North Hants 

364 BELLS 

The round towers of Ireland (see Figs. 160 and 
161) are especially interesting memorials of the 
early days of Christian architecture, though these 
towers were probably used for military as well as 


^F'' r 



Fig. 160. St. Kevin's Church, Glendalough, Ireland. 
Oldest existing round belfry attached to church 

for religious purposes. They were both watch 
towers and belfries, and doubtless the inhabitants 
found refuge in them when attacked by the North- 
men. The sacred objects of the church were often 
placed in the tower for safekeeping. 



In the upper stories of these towers there have 
been found bars of iron or of oak, upon which bells 
were probably fastened and played with a metal 
hammer. Lord Dunraven writes that he "carried 


161. Belfry of Antrim, County of Antrim, 
Ireland. Built about the ninth century 

an ordinary dinner bell to the top of Clondalkin 
Round Tower, and observed that the sound seemed 
greater when heard within the topmost chamber of 
the tower than in an ordinary hall; and a friend 
standing at a distance of a hundred feet from the 

366 BELLS 

building said the tone was quite as loud as when 
rung beside her down on the level of the ground." 
He thinks that the bells in these towers were proba- 
bly tuned to the notes of the pentatonic scale, and 
played, perhaps, for the entertainment of the inhab- 
itants clustered about the base of the tower. 

From the slant of the openings in the top of many 
of these towers it is thought that heavy missiles and 
stones were probably pushed from the belfry to 
fall upon a besieging enemy below. Without doubt, 
these bell towers served the inhabitants in several 
capacities, municipal as well as religious. 

The Irish bell towers are only typical of what 
existed in other parts of the British Isles, and in 
other European countries, during the Middle Ages. 


Sometimes the town united with the church in 
building a tower that would be used as a tower of 
defense and a watch tower as well as a belfry. In 
many cases bell towers were built by the town, 
near the town hall, and the bells used in calhng 
citizens together in cases of disorder in the town, 
fire, or other alarms. 

In countries which were distracted by constant 
war the bells of the town acquired great public 
importance. If there was no special town bell, 
the chief bell in the cathedral often belonged to the 
town, not to the cathedral chapter. "He who 
commanded the bell commanded the town; for by 


that sound, at a moment's notice, he could rally 
and concentrate his adherents. Hence a con- 
queror commonly acknowledged the political impor- 
tance of bells by melting them down ; and the cannon 
of the conquered was in turn melted to supply 
the garrison with bells to be used in the suppression 
of revolts. Many a bloody chapter in history has 
been rung in and out by bells. "^ 

Municipal bell towers existed in Europe as early 
as the eleventh century .^ * ' The building of the town 
hall was the earliest symbol of the growth of the 
free community (independent of the feudal lords), 
and the cities of Bordeaux and Toulouse had each 
a building of the kind as far back as the twelfth cen- 
tury. In the early days of enfranchisement, it was 
customary to call together the citizens of the com- 
munity by means of bells. These were, however, 
at first confined to the towers of the churches, and 
since they could not be rung without the consent 
of the clergy, a good deal of friction must some- 
times have arisen, especially in those places where 
it happened that ecclesiastics were the feudal lords. 
To obviate difiiculty of this kind, the municipalities 
began to procure bells of their own, and these were 
hung at first over the town gates, in the manner of 
which a very interesting example may still be seen 
at the gate known as *La Grosse Cloche' at Bor- 
deaux. Toward the close of the twelfth century 

iSee Encyclopedia Britannica, on "Bell." 

2" Architecture in the War Area," in Architect and Contract Reporter, 
August, 191 7, by Tyrrell-Green, 

368 BELLS 

and the early years of the thirteenth, we find separate 
towers erected for town bells. These also served 
the purpose of lookouts, being provided with lodg- 
ing for the watchman, and a gallery commanding 
a view on every side, so that the bell might sound 
an alarm upon outbreak of fire, or onset of foe. 
While in their origin the belfries were thus designed 
to meet a need, and serve a utilitarian purpose, they 
came to be regarded, as tim.e went on, as ends in 
themselves, and were built on a great scale and 
lavishly adorned. . . . Thus the town belfries 
which form so regular a feature of old Flemish cities, 
and which occur with like frequency in the north 
of France, may be considered as material symbols 
of the power and wealth of the communities that 
erected them." 

The Christians, in using bells according to the 
requirements of their religion, says Russel Sturgis, 
were ultimately led to the invention of new forms of 
architecture. Below is given a list of definitions 
quoted from Sturgis' Dictionary of Architecture and 
Building, which gives an idea of the contribution 
which bells have made to the terms and forms of 

Bell cage. A timber framework which supports the 
bells in a steeple. Designed to absorb as much 
vibration as possible so as to transmit a minimum 
of jarring to the walls. 
Bell canopy. Open structure with small roof intended 
to shelter a bell. Stands either independently (as 
at gate of churchyard) or resting upon wall of church. 


Bell carriage. Structure which carries bells in a belfry. 

Bell chamber. Portion of the interior of a belfry or cam- 
panile in which bells are hung. Contains bell car- 
riage and has large openings to permit the wide 
diffusion of the sound. 

Bell cot: cote. Small structure to carry and shelter one 
or more bells, and carried upon brackets projecting 
from a wall, or built upon a roof or spire. 

Bell crank. An angular lever for changing direction of 
a to-and-fro movement of the bells. 

Bell gable. A gable having an opening in which a bell 
is hung; in particular, an upward prolongation of 
a portion of a wall above the roof, terminating in 
a small gable, and having one or more openings 
for bells. 

Bell hanging. The trade or operation of putting in place, 
in a building, the bells and their appurtenances. 

Bell house. A building, usually tower-like, intended for 
the housing and proper sounding of a bell or bells, 
especially Round Towers, like those of Ireland. 

Bell pull. A knob or handle and its appurtenances 
connected with a bell by any mechanical contrivance 
by which the bell is rung by pulling. 

Bell tower. A tower fitted and prepared for containing 
one or more large bells, and for allowing their sound 
to be heard properly both near and far. Nothing 
of this kind existed in antiquity. 

Bell turret. A small tower, usually topped with a spire 
or pinnacle, and containing one or more bells. 

Belfry. In modern use, a structure arranged for carrying 
large bells, and allowing for their proper service 
in different applications: (i) a bell tower, (2) bell 
chamber, (3) bell cage, (4) place occupied by the bell 

370 BELLS 

ringers; this is sometimes far below the bells, and 
in some chiirches is on the floor of the tower, level 
with the floor of the church itself. 
Campanile (Italian plural campanili). In Italian, a bell 
tower, generally separated from other buildings. 


Nowhere in the world are there to be found more 
beautiful bell towers than in Italy, the home of the 
first church bells. At a very early date it became 
customary in Italy to hang the bells in towers that 
were separate from the churches, instead of hanging 
them in steeples or belfries upon the church build- 
ings, as is the case with most modern churches. 
Some of these bell towers, or campaniles, are very 
lofty and magnificent. The following are some of 
the most famous ones. The Campanile of St. Mark 
in Venice (see Fig. 162) belongs to the famous 
church of St. Mark, and is built about two hundred 
feet from the church. It was originally erected 
about 900,^ rebuilt in 1329, and provided with a new 
upper story after an earthquake in 15 12. The bell 
chamber is at the top, and the ascent is made by 
a continuous inclined plane, winding around the 
tower, with a platform at each square angle. In 
1902 it collapsed. The foundations were strength- 
ened and the tower rebuilt in 1905-1911. It is 
three hundred and twenty-five feet high. 

The Round Campanile of Pisa, or the Leaning 
Tower as it is most often called, was begun in 11 74 

iSavs Baedeker. 



Gramstorff Bros., Inc., Maiden, Ma 

Fig. 162. St. Mark's Cathedral and bell tower (campanile) 
in Venice, Italy 



Gramstorff Bros., Inc., Maiden, Mass. 

Pig. 163. The leaning hell tower of Pisa, Italy 


and finished in 1359 (see Fig. 163). It is believed 
that when this tower was being built the foundations 
of one side sank, and rather than begin it all over, 
the builders adjusted the weight of the upper stories 
so that it would be in a state of equilibrium, even 
though leaning so far over. It rises to a height of 
one hundred and seventy-nine feet, and a plumb 
line lowered to the ground from the top story, which 
forms the belfry, reaches the ground about thirteen 
feet from the base of the building. Galileo tried 
his experiments regarding the laws of gravitation 
from the top of this tower, the slanting position 
of which served his purpose well. The belfry is 
reached by a flight of two hundred and ninety-six 
steps. It is now thought to be less stable than 

The Campanile of Florence (see Fig. 164, p. 374) is 
a square structure two hundred and seventy-six feet 
high on a base forty-five feet square, and is richly 
decorated with colored marble. It was begun by 
the celebrated architect, Giotto, in 1334, but he did 
not live to see it completed (in 1350). It is con- 
sidered the most important piece of the late Italian 
Gothic architecture which carried with it much 
decoration in colored marbles combined with sculp- 
ture. In his Seven Lamps of Architecture, Ruskin 
says: ''The characteristics of Power and Beauty 
occur more or less in different buildings, some in 
one and some in another. But all together, and 
all in their highest possible relative degrees, they 



Fig. 164. Cathedral and campanile of Florence, Italy, 
often called ^'Giotto's Tower ^^ 


exist, SO far as I know, only in one building in the 
world — the Campanile of Giotto." 

There are several interesting campaniles in Russia. 
See St. Ivan's Tower in Figure 96.^ 

Since the days of the Irish round towers, the early 
town bell towers, and the first Italian campaniles, 
church towers and belfries have developed number- 
less and exquisite forms which are more or less 
familiar to everyone who lives in a Christian country. 
The cathedrals of England have long been famous for 
their beauty, and there are many on the Continent 
and in America which are scarcely less interesting and 
impressive. The field of church architecture is too 
vast to allow here more than a suggestion of the part 
that bells have played in its development. 

In his History of Ecclesiastical Architecture, Poole 
says: ''It is to the use of church bells that we are 
indebted for the most prominent feature of almost 
every ecclesiastical fabric, and that which serves 
most to harmonize all the parts of a whole, sometimes 
so vast and almost always so various, is a Gothic 
church. From the low, central tower of a Norman 
abbey, but just rising above the roof of the inter- 
section of the cross, to the lofty towers or spires of 
Boston, Gloucester, Coventry, in whatever part of the 
church it may be placed, the steeple still gives an 
inexpressible grace and dignity to the whole outline, 
correcting immoderate lengths, reducing all minor 
parts to proportion, giving variety to sameness, 

iSee p. 221. 

376 BELLS 

and harmony to the most hcentious irregular- 
ity. . . . What is it which gives such vastness 
and importance to the cathedral, such grace and 
beauty to the parish church at a distance, but the 
tower or spire? Nay, what is it but the bell gable 
which in mere outline often distinguishes the retired 
chapel from some neighboring barn? And for all 
this we are indebted to the introduction of bells; 
or if not for the existence of these or the like addi- 
tions to the beauty of outline in our churches, yet 
at least for what is part of their beauty, their having 
a use, and being exactly adapted to their use." 



It is interesting to observe the great variety in 
the kinds of bells exhibited in the Crosby-Brown 
collection of musical instruments in the Metropolitan 
Museum. The following is a list made casually, 
with no claim to completeness: Mass bells, cos- 
tume bells, cat bells, ring-rattle bells, bracelet bells, 
cowbells, horse bells, sheep bells, donkey bells, 
camel bells, ox bells, dog bells, elephant bells, buf- 
falo bells, harness bells, sleigh bells, hand bells, 
clay bells, wind bells, temple bells, centurian bells, 
ankle bells, runner's bells, chanting bells, prayer 
bells, church bells, a tree bell, double bells, bells on 
stands, bells on pedestals, and swinging bells. 

So far as could be ascertained, these bells are 
made of the following materials : bronze, bell metal, 
brass, iron, copper, silver, pottery, wood, horn, 
white metal, and pewter. The shapes are of almost 
every conceivable form which allows a hollow cavity 
for ringing. There are long narrow ones, short shal- 
low ones, round, square, and trumpet-shaped; 
geometrical designs, and fantastic representations of 
flowers, animals, and human beings. 

In the city of New York the following kinds of 
bells were heard by the writer within a few weeks: 


378 BELLS 

church bells, clock-tower bells, fire-wagon bells, rag- 
man's bell, scissor grinder's bell, old newspaper col- 
lector's bell, fruit vendor's bell, sleigh bells, door bells, 
street bells (on election night), prompter's bell (or 
curtain bell) at the theater, bells of Salvation Army 
collectors for the poor, train bells, school-period 
bells, boat bells, and chimes and other musical bells. 

The town bellman and crier was once a familiar 
character in every large town in England. Before 
the days of plentiful house clocks, the citizens 
depended on him for information of the time of 
night. The streets were lighted by lanterns hung 
outside the houses, "with a whole candle for the 
accommodation of foot passengers, from Allhallow's 
evening to Candlemas Day. The bellman went 
his rounds all night with a bell in his hand, and at 
every 'land's end and ward's end, gave warning of 
fire and candle, and help the poor and pray for the 
dead.' Almost down to the last century the watch- 
man was a feeble old man who 'disturbed your rest 
to tell you what's o'clock,' and showed his lantern 
to warn thieves of his approach that they might 
depart in peace, and like Dogberry, he might thank 
God he was rid of a knave. "^ 

The bellman of Old England voices his duties in 
the following rime •? 

Time, Master, calls your bellman to his task. 
To see your doors and windows are all fast, 

iFrom Bells, an Anthology, by Mary S. Taber. ^ 

^Chambers' Book of Days. 


And that no villainy or foul crime be done 

To you or yours in absence of the sun. 

If any base lurker I do meet, 

In private alley or in open street, 

You shall have warning by my timely call, 

And so God bless you and give rest to all. 

Robert Herrick's "Bellman" runs thus: 

From noise of scare fires rest ye free. 
From murders benedicitie ; 
From all mischances that may fright 
Your pleasing slumbers in the night ; 
Mercie secure ye all, and keep 
The goblin from ye, while ye sleep. 
Past one o'clock and almost two, 
My masters all, ''good day to you." 

The town crier was also an important person in 
New England; and in some of the small New Eng- 
land towns he has disappeared only within the past 
half-century. He announced not only the time, 
but all the important news as well, giving the same 
kind of service that is done by the newspaper and 
radio today. 

In the past, bells have been used in many other 
customs that have died out, or are fast disappearing. 
The muffin bell announced that the muffin man was 
within hearing, and that his muffins were fresh and 
hot. The postman's bell was rung to attract the 
attention of those who had letters to mail, as the 
postman went about collecting letters, a custom 
replaced by the present postal system. The dustman 

380 BELLS 

rang a bell as he collected rubbish from house 
to house; and we may still hear the bell of the rag- 
man and the old-clothes man. 

In some places hand bells are still rung by those 
who go from door to door on Christmas, seeking 
gifts and bounty. 

<:^ l(^ 

Fig. 165. A hand bell of the eleventh or 
twelfth century 

The table or hand bell in domestic life has a coun- 
terpart in the whistle or horn of the outside world 
of sport. Several centuries ago the use of table 
bells was universal in Europe as the only means of 
calling servants. Figure 165 shows a highly orna- 
mented table bell of the eleventh or twelfth 
century. The Italian table bells of the sixteenth 
century have claimed the attention of art collec- 
tors. Many of these have the armorial bearings 
of the owners, and during the Renaissance period 


the designs on the bells were rich and elaborate. 
The table bell used by Mary Queen of Scots is 
still preserved as a relic and a work of art. Among 
the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth - century 
French table bells a fashion arose of having a full- 
length figure of some historic personage. Bells of 
this time include images of Marie Antoinette, 
Napoleon, Empress Josephine, and of many others. 
These developed later into a grotesque style. ^ 

The hand bell as a domestic signal developed into 
a kind of house bell, hung somewhat after the man- 
ner of a church bell rung with a rope. In the hall, 
or in some other part of the residence, a bell was 
hung, and from it a cord or wire passed through 
a hole in the ceiling of the adjacent room, and hung 
down within easy reach. In many of the old- 
fashioned houses in England, even at present, the 
maid is called by this means. A heavy cord with a 
tassel at the end may still be seen hanging in many 
bedrooms and drawing rooms of England. A pull 
at this cord will bring a tinkle from the bell hanging 
on the other side of the wall through which the cord 
passes. ''Few persons," says a writer of 1850, "are 
aware how modern is the present practice of domestic 
bell hanging; for no trace of it has been discovered 
in the old mansions of our nobility, even so late 
as the reign of Queen Anne. Lord Brownlow, in 
speaking of his residence, said, in 1810: 'It is get- 
ting into fashion to have bells hung from the rooms 

^Arthur Hay den's By-Paths in Curio Collecting. 

382 BELLS 

in houses. I must have them also.' Before that, 
each room had its lackey instead of a bell. So long 
did it take to conduct mankind to the simple inven- 
tion of ringing a bell in a horizontal direction by 
means of a crank and a piece of wire."^ 

Perhaps one of the saddest occasions on which 
a hand bell was rung in England was during the 
Great Plague of London, in the summer of 1665, 
to announce the arrival of the cart to take the dead 
bodies away, there being too many to be buried 
separately. ''AH day and all night, the dead-cart 
went its rounds, with the weird noise of the gloomy 
bell, and the hoarse voices of the buriers calling, 
'Bring out your dead!' "^ 

Another doleful- voiced hand bell was one which 
was rung at the window of the condemned cell of 
St. Sepulchre's Church in London. "On the night 
before an execution, some person, armed with a large 
hand bell, would get as near as possible to the window 
of the condemned cell, and after sounding twelve 
solemn double strokes with his bell, then recited 
the following lines: 

' All you that in the condemned hole do lie. 
Prepare you, for tomorrow you shall die; 
Watch all, and pray, the hour is drawing near 
That you before the Almighty must appear ; 
Examine well yourselves, in time repent. 
That you may not to eternal flames be sent ; 

^Miscellanea Critica. 

^Meiklejohn, in A New History of England and Great Britain. 


And when St. Sepulchre's beh tomorrow tolls, 
The Lord above have mercy on yotir souls.' "^ 

Then as a final reminder, he announced *'Past 
twelve o'clock!" and left the doomed ones to their 
own thoughts. 

For centuries it was the custom to ring hand bells 
at funerals, and this old custom has not entirely 
disappeared. A hand bell is still rung before the 
procession at Oxford funerals, not to scare away the 
evil spirits, as was formerly the case, but merely for 
the sake of the old English custom. In some places 
of Ireland and Scotland the hand bell is rung in 
the funeral procession all the way to the churchyard. 

The sancUis bell which is rung at the elevation of 
the Host (see p. 97) in the Catholic service is the 
signal for all who hear it to kneel and offer a prayer 
to the Virgin. ''Most persons have witnessed this 
scene in the streets of Roman Catholic cities where 
a hand bell is rung before the priest who carries the 
sacred elements. Some years ago in Spain, the 
sound penetrated to the interior of a theater, and 
not only did all the spectators rise up and kneel, 
but the dancers on the stage stopped in their per- 
formance to drop upon their knees. "^ 

When men began to domesticate animals, and the 
huntsman began to give way to the herdsman, a 
need was felt for something which would enable the 
owner of animals to keep in touch with them. Hence 

'From Geo. S. Tyack's Book about Bells, 
^Miscellanea Critica. 

384 BELLS 

began the use of crotal bells, or noise producers ; and 
for ages men have used bells on the necks of animals. 

Sheep bells are tied on the necks of the ringleaders, 
and all the other sheep, who habitually follow the 
leader, are more easily kept together. In Scotland 
every flock of sheep has a bell to enable the herds- 
man to find them when lost in the snow. Sometimes 
the Indians of New Mexico make sheep bells of the 
horns of the Rocky Mountain sheep, the clapper 
being a stone tied inside the horn. A writer of the 
sixteenth century states that ''the shepherds think 
that the flocks are pleased with the sound of the 
bell, as they are by the flute, and that they grow 
fat in consequence." 

It has long been thought that animals have some 
kind of conscious pride in the bells which they wear 
on their necks. Southey, writing of the Alpine 
cattle, says: ''The}^ stalk forth proud and pleased 
when wearing their bells. If the leading cow, who 
hitherto bore the largest bell, be deprived of it, she 
manifests a sense of disgrace by lowing incessantly, 
abstaining from food, and growing lean; and the 
happy rival on which the bell has been conferred is 
singled out for her vengeance." 

The cowbells of the Swiss are prized very highly. 
Much care is spent in making them, and they 
descend in families from generation to generation. 
vSome of them which are made of hammered copper 
have very pleasing tones. The traveler in the 
mountains of Switzerland has every opportunity to 


hear many tones of cowbells, and there are few people 
who are insensible to their charm. 

Cowbells have been heard by every country child 
in America. The slow, steady tinkle down in the 
lane as the cows come home is probably a cherished 
childhood memory of many a man and woman now 
living in the city. 

Horse bells, in ancient times, were probably used 
for ornamental as well as for useful purposes. Bells 
which were worn on the horses of the Canterbury 
Pilgrims have been found in the Thames River. 
These bells were inscribed with the words Campana 
Thome. ^ Horse bells are common in Asia; also in 
southern and wCvStern United States, where they are 
used to enable the owners to locate the horses which 
are often left free to roam about and graze at will. 
The bell, when it is worn by the leader of the group, 
also serves to keep a group of horses together. 

In Italy, and elsewhere in Europe, bells are made 
of baked earth; they have a very pleasing sound, 
and are inexpensive, costing about a penny apiece. 
If a sheep or horse breaks his bell, it is not a very 
serious matter to replace it. 

In the West, bells are fastened to the necks of 
turkeys. These serve not only to help locate the 
turkeys, but also as a protection against hawks and 
wild animals. It will be recalled that the bells 
worn by the domestic animals in India serve to 
protect them against snakes. 

^Chambers Encyclopedia. 



In the Orient, pack horses and camels are often 
furnished with bells. Oriental caravans are noted 
for the jingling of numerous bells suspended from 

the necks of their ani- 
mals. The object of 
these bells is said to be 
to enliven the animals, 
to frighten off beasts 
of prey, and, above all, 
to keep the party to- 
gether, enabling those 
who might have lin- 
gered or strayed to re- 
join the caravan by 
following the sound of 
the bells. This is of 
great importance in 
countries where the 
routes pass over track- 
less plains and moun- 
tain passes, with no 
regular roadways. The 
Fig. 1 66. Camel bells bells are generally at- 

tached to the throat, or chest band, and are fastened 
either singly or in a number together. Sets of camel 
bells are sometimes fastened to a board which is 
carried on the animal's back (see Figs. i66 and 167). 
Falconry is the art of training hawks to catch other 
birds. It was a popular pastime in Europe in former 
days, and the sport is still practiced in some places. 

^letropolitan Museum 

Camel bells 



Small bells are fastened to the legs of the hawks to 
aid in their recovery. Formerly, when several hawks 
were used at one time, the bells used were of different 
tones, and the combination of sounds was said to be 
very pleasing. 

Hunting dogs also wear bells when hunting in 
thick cover, or where the dog cannot readily be seen. 
The sound of the bell causes the birds to lie closer. 

The reindeer of Nor- 
way and other cold 
countries wear bells. 
We are reminded of 
this custom by the bells 
on Santa Claus's rein- 
deer at Christmas time. 

Sleigh bells fastened 
upon the horses that 
draw sleighs are still to 
be heard in all cold cli- 
mates. Traveling over 
soft snow is so noiseless 
that sleigh bells are a 
necessary safeguard to 
prevent collisions. The 
jingle of sleigh bells is a 
characteristic sound in 
nearly all towns of Rus- 
sia during the winter. 

Figure 168 (next page) represents a set of Russian 
saddle bells used by riders on horseback. Each bell 








\ ^-t^ 











Metropolitan Museum 

Fig. 167. Camel bells 



has several outside clappers which hang close to the 
bell, and every movement of the horse causes a 
merry jingle of many tones. 

In many countries wagon bells were in use up to 
the last century. They were made in sets of several 
bells fastened in a frame attached to the harness. 
Sockets were made in the horses' collars to hold up 
these iron frames. The purpose of the bells was 

Bevin Bros., East Hampton, Conn. 

Fig. i68. A set of Russian saddle chimes 

to give warning on a narrow passage in a road, 
so that another wagoner, coming from the opposite 
direction, could wait in a wider part of the road. 
Figure 169 shows a set of these bells in a frame. 

Maberly Philips says^ that ''sixty or seventy 
years ago every horse in the team of a large farm 
wagon would be decorated with a set of bells as well 
as many brass ornaments. They were frequently 

iln "Latten or Waggon Bells," in The Connoisseur, 1916. 



the property of the wagoner, were highly prized, 
and kept in splendid order. Each bell was attuned 
to a different note, not simply to make jingle, but 
to give a pleasant sound. . . . Many of the coun- 
try lanes were so narrow that passing another team 
was out of the question. Certain rules of the road 
were instituted, which, if not complied with, often 
led to the wagoners fighting out the question of 

Fig. 169. A set of English wagon bells 

which should give way. . . . Some sets have 
three, five or six bells. Each set is fixed to a strong 
piece of board, covered with stout leather, which is 
brought down round the bells, so as to protect them 
from the weather. I am told that it is some years 
since a team of horses with a full set of bells has 
been seen upon any of our country [England] 
roads. . . . 

''The shaped irons, that are in all cases attached 
to the frame, are fitted into sockets provided for 

3 go BELLS 

them on the horse's collar. The frame of the largest 
set I have seen is two feet long, and five inches across 
the top, the leather curtain being three inches deep. 
It weighs thirteen and one-half pounds, which must 
have been a serious addition to the weight of the 
horse's trappings." 

The old English Morris dancers have always worn 
small bells fastened around the leg, just under the 
knee. The jingle of these bells heightens the effect 
of the dance to a great degree, and also stimulates 
the enthusiasm of the dancers themselves. 

In Japan and India small ankle bells are regarded 
as the symbol of the dancer's profession, and in 
Egypt and other Eastern countries the girls of 
past centuries wore strings of bells about their 
ankles. Such bells may be seen in Cairo today. 

Costume bells have been used for ages. We read 
in the Bible that the Hebrew priest was instructed 
to wear many small bells upon his robe while in the 
synagogue, in order that ''his sound shall be heard 
when he goeth into the holy place before the Lord, 
and when he cometh out, that he die not." 

In Shakespeare's day the ''fools" wore bells upon 
their clothing, and their wands had bells fastened 
to them. Some savages wear strings of small bells 
as their only article of dress. ^ In the fifteenth 
century silver bells were worn on the dress of both 
men and women, and even today small bells are 
seen on fancy ball costumes. 

iSee p. 19. 


Arabian ladies wear little bells suspended from 
their hair and garments, which, when they walk, 
give notice that the mistress of the house is passing, 
and so put the servants on their guard. 

Bells have long been used for purposes of alarm. 
The use of fire bells has been so systemized that 
they indicate the exact location of the fire. Fire 
bells in Japan are placed on poles which are tall 
enough to overlook the houses in the crowded sec- 
tions and are easily accessible from all the streets. 

In many New England towns, and along public 
highways, one often sees large, circular pieces of 
metal fastened to trees or posts. These are used as 
fire alarms, either for village or forest fires. 

Factory bells, farm bells, and bells which ring on 
the departure and arrival of boats and trains are so 
commonplace that no reminder of them is needed. 

The uses of the bell are not confined to land. For 
a long time bells have been used to warn boatmen 
of dangerous places near the shore. Southey's 
poem, ''The Inchcape Rock, "^ gives the story of a 
bell which, in the twelfth century, was placed on 
Inchcape Rock in the North Sea to give warning 
to mariners. 

Even a short trip in a pleasure boat will usually 
give one an opportunity to hear a bell ringing from 
a rock or floating buoy, warning the pilots of rocks 
under the surface of the water. 

The lighthouse bell is also still in use. 

iSee p. 402. 

392 BELLS 

A well-known use of bells is that of "bell time" 
on shipboard. In order to give the time to all the 
sailors at once, every half -hour during the day and 
night, and also to reduce the number of strokes to 
some extent, time is divided into sections of four 
(instead of twelve) hours, and a bell is rung every 
half-hour according to a plan which the sailors 
understand. For instance, twelve o'clock is indi- 
cated by eight strokes of the bell ; 1 2 :3o by one stroke ; 
I :oo, by two strokes of the bell; 1 130, three strokes; 
2:00 o'clock, four strokes; 2:30, five strokes; 3:00, 
six strokes; 3:30, seven strokes; 4:00 o'clock, eight 
strokes. Then the series is started again from the 
beginning, 4:30 being one stroke of the bell, and so 
on. Eight is the highest number ever rung for 
giving shipboard time. If one hears the ship bell 
ring five strokes, one knows that it is 2:30 or 6:30 
or 10:30 by clock time. 

Some ship bells are fine examples of the bell 
founder's art. Figure 170 shows a bell cast several 
years ago for the U.S.S. Cleveland. 

The electric bell has replaced many of the old- 
time uses of hand bells, and is now familiar to every- 
one. The mechanism is thus described in the New 
International Encyclopaedia : 

''The arrangement required to ring a bell or sys- 
tem of bells by electricity is simple. Some form of 
galvanic battery requiring little attention, is placed 
in any convenient corner, and from it an insulated 
wire, with the necessary branches, is conducted to 



the various rooms; thence to, perhaps, as many 
bells, and finally back to the battery to complete 
the circuit. Each single bell is provided with a 

Courtesy of Architectural Record 

Fig, 170. The ship hell for U.S.S. " Cleveland'' 

designed by Adolph Weinman. Executed by the 

Henry-Bonnard Co. 

clapper to which is fixed a piece of soft iron. Near 
this is an electro-magnet, wound with a quantity 
of insulated wire, to which the main wire is con- 
nected, so that, upon the passage of the signal cur- 
rent, the magnet attracts the piece of iron fastened 
to the clapper, and the clapper strikes the bell. In 
this way any number of bells may be rung at once 

394 BELLS 

by sending a powerful current through the wire to 
which they are all connected. . . . 

' * Bells for continuous vibratory ringing are of the 
same construction as above except that they are 
provided with a device for continually vibrating 
the clapper while the bell is being rung. The wire, 
instead of being connected directly to the coil 
around the magnet, is connected to a post against 
which the clapper rests after striking the bell. The 
coil is connected to the clapper, and the current 
passes through the post and the clapper to the coil. 
When a signal on the wire causes the magnet to 
attract the clapper and strike the bell, the con- 
nection is immediately severed by the clapper 
leaving the post, and no more current can pass 
until the clapper has returned after striking the bell. 
Instantly when this occurs, the connection is rees- 
tablished and the clapper reattracted, and the bell 
again struck. Thus a continuous ringing is pro- 
duced as long as the person presses the calling 

*'A push button is simply a cap covering the 
terminals of the wires leading to the bells. A slight 
pressure of the hand upon the button in the center 
forces the spring-shaped terminals of the wires into 
contact with each other, and allows the current to 
pass from the battery to the bell." 



The largest and most interesting collection of bells 
in the world is in the Glenwood Mission Inn, at 
Riverside, California. It is sometimes called the 
' ' Inn of the Bells. ' ' There are 524 bells described in 
the catalogue of 1926, and others are constantly being 
added to the collection. The bells are not arranged 
in "museum" order, but are hung about the different 
parts of masonry built to receive them, and kept 
distinctly representative of the Spanish mission archi- 
tecture. Three of the early missions are reproduced 
in part, the side wall of San Gabriel Mission, the 
front of Santa Barbara Mission, and the dome of 
Carmel Mission. 

The Inn was built and the famous bell collection 
was made by Mr. Frank A. Miller, a Californian, 
whose interest in the early history of California and 
in the bells and crosses of the missions gradually 
extended to include a deep interest in all kinds of 
bells. These interests have led him to make the 
unique and beautiful combination of architecture, 
history, and romance which gives pleasure to num- 
berless travelers. 

A recent visitor to the Inn writes i^ ''In Califor- 
nia today there is a new kind of garden, a garden 

^Christian Science Monitor for August i8, 1924. 


396 BELLS 

of bells. A student could easily trace the entire 
history of bell founding by an examination of the 
hundreds of bells. In a series of arches rising from 
one side of this garden, hang wonderful bells from 
many lands, all woven together in a charming way 
by a morning-glory vine which springs from the 
ground far below, and which sends out hundreds of 
delicate blue bells, fresh every morning, to greet 
the ancient bells of bronze and brass. The contrast 
between the age-old, solemn-looking giants with 
voice of thunder and the daint}^ silken-petaled blos- 
soms forms a picture of garden beauty rare and 

"Along one end of this bell garden runs a pergola 
of eucalyptus branches, draped with iron chains 
from which bells of many sizes and from many lands 
hang like fair blossoms (see Fig. 171). From India 
and Persia, China, Switzerland, and the dark forests 
of Africa came the bells. Some tinkled from the 
feet of dancing girls from Assam, some hung from 
the staff of Tibetan pilgrims. Some served in 
garrisons, some in temples. Each has a history, 
and the visitor who cares may read the life story 
of each, printed upon a card beside it. Here rests 
a bell from San Bias, which inspired the beautiful 
poem by Longfellow. Over there is a ship's bell 
which was raised from the bottom of the sea, where 
it lay for nearly half a century; for it went down 
with a transport sent out from Boston in 1775, 
conveying from Nova Scotia hundreds of Acadians 



Avery Edwin Field 

Fig. 171. View of the porch of Glenwood Mission Inn, with hells 
hanging from chains 

who were seeking a new home in Maryland and the 

"In Mr. Miller's Garden of Bells the imagination 
has full sway, for some of the bells have called to 
war, some to the marriage feast. A camel bell from 
Egypt conjures a desert caravan facing the rising 
sun, another tells of pilgrims toiling across Hima- 
layan snows. On one chain hangs a conjuror's 
rattle from Salem and a devil chaser from China. 
And there are bells of curious shapes — a pair of 
hands, the mouth of a frog or crocodile, a rustic 
maiden with full skirts whose feet form a clapper; 
a lotus flower, a pagoda, or a dragon. 



Fig. 172. Oldest dated Christian hell so far known, save one (see 
Fig. 100), in the Miller Garden of Bells 



' ' In one corner stands a bell beloved by Father 
Damien, for it went with him to far Molokai. Near 
it is the railroad gong which sounded in Riverside 
when the Santa Fe first came to carry back sweet 
oranges. A huge bell shaped like a bowl claims an 

Avery Edwin Field 

Fig. 173. Chinese temple hell {weight, 2,800 lbs.) from 
Nanking, in the Miller Garden of Bells 

age of 1599 years, and for centuries was struck by 
a heavy mallet swung from the hands of priests, 
at midnight, in the temple of Zenko. If touched 
ever so lightly, it will chant in low voice." 

There hangs a brass cowbell from Rome, which, 
according to its inscription, was made in the fifteenth 



Avery Edwin Field 

Fig. 174. Bronze hell from Montserrat, Spain, dated 1704, in the 
Miller Garden of Bells 


or the early sixteenth century, and belonged to 
Pope Paul III. Also a Russian church bell two 
hundred years old, which was brought from the 
Island of Attu. It was probably sent to Alaska 
by Catherine the Great. On a very cold Christmas 
morning in its northern home, it cracked while 
being rung, and is now in three pieces. 

One of the most interesting of the Inn's bells is 
one which is claimed to be the oldest dated Christian 
bell, save one, in the world (see Fig. 172, p. 398). 
It is twenty-six inches high, forty-six inches in 
circumference, and bears around its edge a Latin 
inscription which, translated, reads: ''Quintana and 
Salvador made me in the year of our Lord 1247." 
Near the top of the bell is its name, Maria Jacobi. 
It also has the Greek monogram LH.S.X.P.S. 

Figure 173 shows an interesting Chinese temple 
bell from Nanking, about seventy-five years old. 
Its diameter is four feet, four inches ; height, six feet, 
five inches, and it weighs twenty-eight hundred 
pounds. Perhaps the most beautiful of the bells is 
a bronze bell from Monserrat, Spain, dated 1704 
(see Fig. 174). The design of its ornamentation, 
which includes ten exquisite medallions of the saints, 
is very interesting. It is "dedicated to the honor of 
God and of the Virgin Mary and of all the Saints." 


(Selected bell poems from Southey, Longfellow, Lowell, Cowper, 
Tennyson, Moore, and Poe) 


Robert Southey 
No stir in the air, no stir in the sea, 
The ship was still as she could be; 
Her sails from Heaven received no motion ; 
Her keel was steady in the ocean. 

Without either sign or sound of their shock, 
The waves flowed over the Inchcape Rock ; 
So little they rose, so little they fell, 
They did not move the Inchcape bell. 

The holy Abbot of Aberbrothok 
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock ; 
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung, 
And over the waves its warning rung. 

When the rock was hid by the surges' swell, 
The mariners heard the warning bell; 
And then they knew the perilous rock, 
And blessed the Abbot of Aberbrothok. 

The Sun in heaven was shining gay, 
All things were joyful on that day; 
The sea birds screamed as they wheeled around. 
And there was joyance in their sound. 


The buoy of the Inchcape Bell was seen, 
A darker speck on the ocean green; 
Sir Ralph, the Rover, walked his deck. 
And he fixed his eye on the darker speck. 

He felt the cheering power of spring, 
It made him whistle, it made him sing ; 
His heart was mirthful to excess ; 
But the Rover's mirth was wickedness. 

His eye was on the Inchcape float ; 
Quoth he, " My men, put otit the boat; 
And row me to the Inchcape Rock, 
And I'll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok." 

The boat is lowered, the boatmen row, 
And to the Inchcape Rock they go ; 
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat. 
And cut the Bell from the Inchcape float. 

Down sank the Bell with a gurgling sound; 
The bubbles rose, and burst around. 
Quoth Sir Ralph, "The next who comes to the Rock 
Will not bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok." 

Sir Ralph, the Rover, sailed away. 
He scoured the seas for many a day ; 
And now, grown rich with plundered store, 
He steers his course for Scotland's shore. 

So thick a haze o'er spreads the sky 
They cannot see the Sun on high ; 
The wind hath blown a gale all day; 
At evening it hath died away. 

404 BELLS 

On the deck the Rover takes his stand; 
So dark it is they see no land. 
Quoth Sir Ralph, "It will be lighter soon, 
For there is the dawn of the rising Moon." 

"Canst hear," said one, "the breakers roar? 
For yonder, methinks, should be the shore." 
"Now where we are I cannot tell, 
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell." 

They hear no sound ; the swell is strong ; 
Though the wind hath fallen, they drift along, 
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock, — 
"O Christ! it is the Inchcape Rock!" 

Sir Ralph, the Rover, tore his hair; 
He cursed himself in his despair. 
The waves rush in on every side; 
The ship is sinking beneath the tide. 

But, even in his dying fear, 
One dreadful sound he seemed to hear, — 
A sound as if, with the Inchcape Bell, 
The Devil below was ringing his knell. 


The Bell of Atri 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
At Atri in Abruzzo, a small town 
Of ancient Roman date, but scant renown, 
One of those little places that have run 
Half up the hill, beneath a blazing sun, 
And then sat down to rest, as if to say, 


" I climb no farther upward, come what may," — 

The Re Giovanni, now unknown to fame, 

vSo many monarchs since have borne the name, 

Had a great bell hung in the market place, 

Beneath a roof, projecting some small space 

By way of shelter from the sun and rain. 

Then rode he through the streets with all his train. 

And, with the blast of trumpets loud and long. 

Made proclamation, that whenever wrong 

Was done to any man, he should but ring 

The great bell in the square, and he, the King, 

Would cause the Syndic to decide thereon. 

Such was the proclamation of King John. 

How swift the happy days in Atri sped. 
What wrongs were righted, need not here be said. 
Suffice it that, as all things must decay, 
The hempen rope at length was worn away, 
Unraveled at the end, and, strand by strand. 
Loosened and wasted in the ringer's hand, 
Till one, who noted this in passing by, 
Mended the rope with braids of briony, 
So that the leaves and tendrils of the vine 
Hung like a votive garland at a shrine. 

By chance it happened that in Atri dwelt 
A knight, with spur on heel and sword in belt. 
Who loved to hunt the wild boar in the woods, 
Who loved his falcons with their crimson hoods, 
Who loved his hounds and horses, and all sports 
And prodigalities of camps and courts ; — 
Loved, or had loved them; for at last, grown old. 
His only passion was the love of gold. 

4o6 BELLS 

He sold his horses, sold his hawks and hounds, 
Rented his vineyards and his garden grounds. 
Kept but one steed, his favorite steed of all. 
To starve and shiver in a naked stall, 
And day by day sat brooding in his chair. 
Devising plans how best to hoard and spare. 

At length he said: "What is the use or need 
To keep at my own cost this lazy steed. 
Eating his head off in my stables here. 
When rents are low and provender is dear ? 
Let him go feed upon the public ways ; 
I want him only for the holidays." 
So the old steed was turned into the heat 
Of the long, lonely, silent, shadeless street; 
And wandered in suburban lanes forlorn, 
Barked at by dogs, and torn by brier and thorn. 

One afternoon, as in that sultry clime 

It is the custom in the summer time. 

With bolted doors and window-shutters closed. 

The inhabitants of Atri slept or dozed; 

When suddenly upon their senses fell 

The loud alarm of the accusing bell ! 

The Syndic started from his deep repose. 
Turned on his couch, and listened, and then rose 
And donned his robes, and with reluctant pace 
Went panting forth into the market place. 
Where the great bell upon its cross-beams swung, 
Reiterating with persistent tongue, 
In half-articulate jargon, the old song: 
' ' Some one hath done a wrong, hath done a wrong ! 


But ere he reached the belfry's Hght arcade 
He saw, or thought he saw, beneath its shade, 
No shape of human form of woman bom. 
But a poor steed dejected and forlorn. 
Who with uplifted head and eager eye 
Was tugging at the vines of briony. 
''Domeneddio!" cried the Syndic straight, 
"This is the Knight of Atri's steed of state! 
He calls for justice, being sore distressed, 
And pleads his cause as loudly as the best." 

Meanwhile from street and lane a noisy crowd 

Had rolled together like a summer cloud. 

And told the story of the wretched beast 

In five-and-twenty different ways at least. 

With much gesticulation and appeal 

To heathen gods, in their excessive zeal. 

The Knight was called and questioned ; in reply 

Did not confess the fact, did not deny; 

Treated the matter as a pleasant jest. 

And set at naught the Syndic and the rest, 

Maintaining, in an angry undertone. 

That he should do what pleased him with his own. 

And thereupon the Syndic gravely read 
The proclamation of the King ; then said : 
** Pride goeth forth on horseback grand and gay, 
But Cometh back on foot, and begs its way; 
Fame is the fragrance of heroic deeds. 
Of flowers of chivalry and not of weeds ! 
These are familiar proverbs ; but I fear 
They never yet have reached your knightly ear. 

4o8 BELLS 

What fair renown, what honor, what repute 
Can come to you from starving this poor brute ? 
He who serves well and speaks not, merits more 
Than they who clamor loudest at the door. 
Therefore the law decrees that as this steed 
Served you in youth, henceforth you shall take heed 
To comfort his old age, and to provide 
Shelter in stall, and food and field beside." 

The Knight withdrew abashed ; the people all 
Led home the steed in triimiph to his stall. 
The King heard and approved, and laughed in glee. 
And cried aloud: "Right well it pleaseth me! 
Church bells at best but ring us to the door ; 
But go not in to mass ; my bell doth more : 
It Cometh into court and pleads the cause 
Of creatures dumb and unknown to the laws ; 
And this shall make, in every Christian clime, 
The Bell of Atri famous for all time." 


James Russell Lowell 
The tower of old Saint Nicholas soared upward to the skies. 
Like some huge piece of Nature's make, the growth of 

centuries ; 
You could not deem its crowding spires a work of human 

They seemed to struggle lightward from a sturdy living 


Not Nature's self more freely speaks in crystal or in oak. 
Than, through the pious builder's hand, in that gray pile 
she spoke; 


And as from acorn springs the oak, so, freely and alone. 
Sprang from his heart this h^^mn to God, sung in obedient 

It seemed a wondrous freak of chance, so perfect, yet so 

A whim of Nature crystallized slowly in granite tough ; 

The thick spires yearned towards the sky in quaint har- 
monious lines, 

And in broad sunlight basked and slept, like a grove 
of blasted pines. 

Never did rock or stream or tree lay claim with better 

To all the adorning sympathies of shadow and of light; 
And, in that forest petrified, as forester there dwells 
Stout Herman, the old sacristan, sole lord of all its bells. 

Surge leaping after surge, the fire roared onward red as 

Till half of Hamburg lay engulfed beneath the eddying 

For miles away the fiery spray poured down its deadly 

And back and forth the billows sucked, and paused, 

and burst again. 

From square to square with tiger leaps panted the lustful 

The air to leeward shuddered with the gasps of its desire ; 
And church and palace, which even now stood whelmed 

but to the knee, 
Lift their black roofs like breakers lone amid the whirling 



Up in his tower old Herman sat and watched with quiet 

His soul had trusted God too long to be at last forsook; 
He could not fear, for surely God a pathway would unfold 
Through this red sea for faithful hearts, as once he did 

of old. 

But scarcely can he cross himself, or on his good saint 

Before the sacrilegious flood o'erleaped the churchyard 

And, ere a pater half was said, 'mid smoke and crackling 

His island tower scarce juts its head above the wide 


Upon the peril's desperate peak his heart stood up 

sublime ; 
His first thought was for God above, his next was for his 

"Sing now and make your voices heard in hymns of 

praise," cried he, 
"As did the Israelites of old, safe walking through the 


"Through this red sea our God hath made the pathway 

safe to shore ; 
Our promised land stands full in sight; shout now as 

ne'er before!" 
And as the tower came crushing down, the bells, in clear 

Pealed forth the grand old German hymn, — "All good 

souls, praise the Lord!" 



William Cowper 
How soft the music of those village bells, 
Falling at intervals upon the ear 
In cadence sweet, now dying all away, 
Now pealing loud again, and louder still, 
Clear and sonorous, as the gale comes on! 
With easy force it opens all the cells 
Where Memory slept. Wherever I have heard 
A kindred melody, the scene recurs. 
And with it all its pleasures and its pains. 
Such comprehensive views the spirit takes. 
That in a few short moments I retrace 
(As in a map the voyager his course) 
The windings of my way through many years. 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
(From XXVIII) 
The time draws near the birth of Christ : 
The moon is hid ; the night is still ; 
The Christmas bells from hill to hill 
Answer each other in the mist. 

Four voices of four hamlets round. 

From far and near, on mead and moor, 
Swell out and fail, as if a door 

Were shut between me and the sound : 

412 BELLS 

Each voice four changes on the wind, 
That now dilate, and now decrease, 
Peace and goodwill, goodwill and peace, 

Peace and goodwill to all mankind. 

This year I slept and woke with pain, 
I almost wish'd no more to wake. 
And that my hold on life would break 

Before I heard those bells again: 

But they my troubled spirit rule. 
For they controU'd me when a boy; 
They bring me sorrow touch' d with joy, 

The merry merry bells of Yule. 

(From CVI) 

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, 
The flying cloud, the frosty light : 
The year is dying in the night ; 

Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. 

Ring out the old, ring in the new. 
Ring, happy bells, across the snow; 
The year is going, let him go ; 

Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

Ring out the grief that saps the mind. 
For those that here we see no more ; 
Ring out the feud of rich and poor, 

Ring in redress to all mankind. 

Ring out a slowly dying cause, 
And ancient forms of party strife; 


Ring in the nobler modes of life, 
With sweeter manners, purer laws. 

Ring out the want, the care, the sin, 

The faithless coldness of our times ; 

Ring out, ring out my mournful rimes, 
But ring the fuller minstrel in. 

Ring out false pride in place and blood. 

The civic slander and the spite; 

Ring in the love of truth and right, 
Ring in the common love of good. 

Ring out old shapes of foul disease; 

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; 

Ring out the thousand wars of old, 
Ring in the thousand years of peace. 

Ring in the valiant man and free. 

The larger heart, the kindlier hand; 

Ring out the darkness of the land, 
Ring in the Christ that is to be. 

Thomas Moore 
Those evening bells ! those evening bells 1 
How many a tale their music tells 
Of youth, and home, and that sweet time 
When last I heard their soothing chime ! 

Those joyous hours are passed away; 
And many a heart that then was gay. 
Within the tomb now darkly dwells. 
And hears no more those evening bells. 

414 BELLS 

And so 'twill be when I am gone, — 
That tuneful peal will still ring on ; 
While other bards shall walk these dells, 
And sing your praise, sweet evening bells. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
What say the Bells of San Bias 
To the ships that southward pass 
From the harbor of Mazatlan ? 
To them it is nothing more 
Than the sound of surf on the shore, — 
Nothing more to master or man. 

But to me, a dreamer of dreams. 
To whom what is and what seems 

Are often one and the same, — 
The Bells of San Bias to me 
Have a strange, wild melody. 

And are something more than a name. 

For bells are the voice of the church ; 
They have tones that touch and search 

The hearts of young and old; 
One sound to all, yet each 
Lends a meaning to their speech. 

And the meaning is manifold. 

They are a voice of the Past, 
Of an age that is fading fast, 

Of a power austere and grand; 
When the flag of Spain unfurled 


Its folds o'er this Western world, 
And the Priest was lord of the land. 

The chapel that once looked down 
On the little seaport town 

Has crumbled into the dust ; 
And on oaken beams below 
The bells swing to and fro, 

And are green with mold and rust. 

"Is, then, the old faith dead," 
They say, "and in its stead 

Is some new faith proclaimed. 
That we are forced to remain 
Naked to sun and rain, 

Unsheltered and ashamed? 

"Once, in our tower aloof 
We rang over wall and roof 

Our warnings and our complaints ; 
And round about us there 
The white doves filled the air 

Like the white souls of the saints. 

"The saints! Ah, have they grown 
Forgetful of their own ? 

Are they asleep, or dead, 
That open to the sky 
Their ruined Missions lie, 

No longer tenanted ? 

"Oh, bring us back once more 
The vanished days of yore, 

When the world with faith was filled : 

41 6 BELLS 

Bring back the fervid zeal, 
The hearts of fire and steel, 

The hands that believe and build. 

"Then from our tower again 
We will send over land and main 

Our voices of command, 
Like exiled kings who return 
To their thrones, and the people learn 

That the Priest is lord of the land ! ' ' 

O Bells of San Bias, in vain 
Ye call back the Past again ! 

The Past is deaf to your prayer; 
Out of the shadows of night 
The world rolls into light ; 

It is daybreak everywhere. 


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

"More than any other literary utterance, its verses have drawn 
English-speaking travelers to this unique music. How wonder- 
fully his genius gives the scene at night, when silence perfects 
the sound of the bells." — William G. Rice. 

In the ancient town of Bruges, 
In the quaint old Flemish city, 
As the evening shades descended. 
Low and loud and sweetly blended, 
Low at times and loud at times. 
And changing like a poet's rimes, 
Rang the beautiful wild chimes 
From the Belfry in the market 
Of the ancient town of Bruges. 


Then, with deep sonorous clangor 
Calmly answering their sweet anger, 
When the wrangling bells had ended, 
• Slowly struck the clock eleven, 
And, from out the silent heaven, 
Silence on the town descended. 
Silence, silence everywhere. 
On the earth and in the air. 
Save that footsteps here and there 
Of some burgher home returning, 
By the street lamps faintly burning. 
For a moment woke the echoes 
Of the ancient town of Bruges. 

But amid my broken slumbers 
Still I heard those magic numbers, 
As they loud proclaimed the flight 
And stolen marches of the night ; 
Till their chimes in sweet collision 
Mingled with each wandering vision. 
Mingled with the fortune-telling 
Gypsy-bands of dreams and fancies. 
Which amid the waste expanses 
Of the silent land of trances 
Have their solitary dwelling ; 
All else seemed asleep in Bruges, 
In the quaint old Flemish city. 

And I thought how like these chimes 

Are the poet's airy rimes, 

All his rimes and roundelays, 

His conceits, and songs, and ditties, 

41 8 BELLS 

From the belfry of his brain, 
Scattered downward, though in vain, 
On the roofs and stones of cities ! 
For by night the drowsy ear 
Under its curtains cannot hear, 
And by day men go their ways, 
Hearing the music as they pass, 
But deeming it no more, alas ! 
Than the hollow sound of brass. 

Yet perchance a sleepless wight. 

Lodging at some hiimble inn 

In the narrow lanes of life. 

When the dusk and hush of night 

Shut out the incessant din 

Of daylight and its toil and strife, 

May listen with a calm delight 

To the poet's melodies, 

Till he hears, or dreams he hears. 

Intermingled with the song, 

Thoughts that he has cherished long ; 

Hears amid the chime and singing 

The bells of his own village ringing, 

And wakes, and finds his slumberous eyes, 

Wet with most delicious tears. 

Thus dreamed I, as by night I lay 
In Bruges, at the Fleur-de-Ble, 
Listening with a wild delight 
To the chimes that, through the night, 
Rang their changes from the Belfry 
Of that quaint old Flemish city. 



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

In the market place of Bruges stands the belfry old and 

brown ; 
Thrice consumed and thrice rebuilded, still it watches 
o'er the town. 

As the summer morn was breaking, on that lofty tower 

I stood, 
And the world threw off the darkness, like the weeds of 


Thick with towns and hamlets studded, and with streams 

and vapors gray, 
Like a shield embossed with silver, round and vast the 

landscape lay. 

At my feet the city slumbered. From its chimneys, 

here and there, 
Wreaths of snow-white smoke, ascending, vanished, 

ghost-like, into air. 

Not a sound rose from the city at that early morning 

But I heard a heart of iron beating in the ancient tower. 

From their nests beneath the rafters sang the swallows 
wild and high; 

And the world, beneath me sleeping, seemed more dis- 
tant than the sky. 

Then most musical and solemn, bringing back the olden 

With their strange, unearthly changes rang the melan- 
choly chimes, 

42 O BELLvS 

Like the psalms from some old cloister, when the nuns 

sing in the choir; 
And the great bell tolled among them, like the chanting 

of a friar. 

Visions of the days departed, shadowy phantoms filled 

my brain ; 
They who live in history only seemed to walk the earth 


I beheld the Flemish weavers, with Namur and Juliers 

Marching homeward from the bloody battle of the Spurs 

of Gold; 

Saw the fight at Minnewater, saw the White Hoods 

moving west, 
Saw great Artevelde victorious scale the Golden Dragon's 


And again the whiskered Spaniard all the land with terror 

smote ; 
And again the wild alarum sounded from the tocsin's 

throat ; 

Till the bell of Ghent responded o'er lagoon and dike of 

"I am Roland! I am Roland! There is victory in the 


Then the sound of drums aroused me. The awakened 

city's roar 
Chased the phantoms I had summond back into their 

graves once more. 


Hours had passed away like minutes; and before I was 

Lo! the shadow of the belfry crossed the sun-illumined 



Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

From the "Golden Legend" 

(Night and storm. Lucifer, with the Powers of the Air, trying to 

tear down the Cross.) 


Hasten! hasten! 

O ye spirits ! 

From its station drag the ponderous 

Cross of iron, that to mock us 

Is uplifted high in air ! 


Oh, we cannot ! 

For around it 

All the Saints and Guardian Angels 

Throng in legions to protect it ; 

They defeat us everywhere ! 


Laudo Deum verum ! 
Plebem voco ! 
Congrego clerum! 


Lower! lower! 

Hover downward ! 

Seize the loud, vociferous bells, and 

Clashing, clanging, to the pavement 

Hurl them from their windy tower! 

42 2 BELLS 


All thy thunders 

Here are harmless ! 

For these bells have been anointed, 

And baptized with holy water ! 

They defy our utmost power. 


Defunctos ploro ! 
Festa decoro ! 


Shake the casements ! 

Break the painted 

Panes, that flame with gold and crimson ; 

Scatter them like leaves of Autumn, 

Swept away before the blast ! 


Oh, we cannot ! 

The Archangel 

Michael flames from every window, 

With the sword of fire that drove us 

Headlong, out of heaven, aghast ! 


Funera plango ! 
Fulgura frango ! 
Sabbata pango ! 


Aim your lightnings 

At the oaken, 

Massive, iron-studded portals ! 


Sack the house of God, and scatter 
Wide the ashes of the dead! 


Oh, we cannot ! 

The Apostles 

And the Martyrs, wrapped in mantles. 

Stand as warders at the entrance, 

Stand as sentinels overhead ! 


Excito lentos ! 
Dissipo ventos ! 
Paco cruentos! 


Baffled! baffled! 


Craven spirits ! leave this labor 

Unto Time, the great Destroyer ! 

Come away, ere night is gone ! 


Onward! onward! 
With the night-wind. 
Over field and farm and forest, 
Lonely homestead, darksome hamlet. 
Blighting all we breathe upon ! 
{They sweep away. Organ and Gregorian 


Nocte surgentes 
Vigilemus omnes ! 

424 BELLS 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

(From the German) 

Bell! thou soundest merrily, 
When the bridal party 

To the church doth hie ! 
Bell! thou soundest solemnly, 
When, on Sabbath morning, 

Fields deserted lie ! 

Bell! thou soundest merrily; 
Tellest thou at evening, 

Bedtime draweth nigh ! 
Bell! thou soundest mournfully, 
Tellest thou the bitter 

Parting hath gone by ! 

Say! How canst thou mourn? 
How canst thou rejoice? 

Thou art but metal dull ! 
And yet all our sorrowings, 
And all our rejoicings. 

Thou dost feel them all' 

God hath wonders many, 
Which we cannot fathom, 

Placed within thy form ! 
When the heart is sinking. 
Thou alone canst raise it. 

Trembling in the storm ! 



Edgar Allan Poe 

(Inspired by the sound of church bells reaching him through his 
open window) 


Hear the sledges with the bells, 
Silver bells! 
What a world of merriment their melody foretells ! 
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, 

In the icy air of night ! 
While the stars, that over sprinkle 
All the heavens, seem to twinkle 
With a crystalline delight ; 
Keeping time, time, time; 
In a sort of Runic rime. 
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells 
From the bells, bells, bells, bells, 

Bells, bells, bells — 
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells. 


Hear the mellow wedding bells, 
Golden bells! - 

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells ! 
Through the balmy air of night 
How they ring out their delight ! 
From the molten-golden notes, 

And all in tune. 
What a liquid ditty floats 
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats 
On the moon ! 
Oh, from out the sounding cells. 

426 BELLS 

What a gush of euphony voluminously wells ! 
How it swells ! 
How it dwells 
On the future ! how it tells 
Of the rapture that impels 
To the swinging and the ringing 

Of the bells, bells, bells, 
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells. 
Bells, bells, bells — 
To the riming and the chiming of the bells ! 


Hear the loud alarum bells, 
Brazen bells ! 
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells! 
In the startled ear of night 
How they scream out their affright ! 
Too much horrified to speak, 
They can only shriek, shriek. 
Out of tune, 
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire. 
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire, 
Leaping higher, higher, higher. 
With a desperate desire. 
And a resolute endeavor 
Now — now to sit or never. 
By the side of the pale-faced moon. 
Oh, the bells, bells, bells! 
What a tale their terror tells 
Of Despair! 
How they clang, and clash, and roar! 
What a horror they outpour 
On the bosom of the palpitating air ! 


Yet the ear it fully knows, 
By the twanging, 
And the clanging. 
How the danger ebbs and flows ; 
Yet the ear distinctly tells, 
In the jangling 
And the wrangling 
How the danger sinks and swells — 
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells, 
Of the bells— 
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, 
Bells, bells, bells — 
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells ! 

Hear the tolling of the bells, 
Iron bells ! 
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels! 
In the silence of the night 
How we shiver with affright 
At the melancholy menace of their tone ! 
For every sound that floats 
From the rust within their throats 

Is a groan. 
And the people — ah, the people. 
They that dwell up in the steeple. 

All alone, 
And who tolling, tolling, tolling 

In that muffled monotone, 
Feel a glory in so rolling 

On the human heart a stone — 
They are neither man nor woman, 

428 BELLS 

They are neither brute nor human, 
They are ghouls ; 
And their king it is who tolls ; 
And he rolls, rolls, rolls. 
A paean from the bells, 
And his merry bosom swells 
With the paean of the bells ; 
And he dances, and he yells; 
Keeping time, time, time, 
In a sort of Runic rime. 
To the paean of the bells. 
Of the bells: 
Keeping time, time, time. 
In a sort of Runic rime, 
To the throbbing of the bells. 
Of the bells, bells, bells — 

To the sobbing of the bells ; 
Keeping time, time, time, 

As he knells, knells, knells, 
In a happy Runic rime, 
To the rolling of the bells, 
Of the bells, bells, bells: 
To the tolling of the bells. 
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells. 
Bells, bells, bells — 
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells. 


(Old English) 
Gay go up and gay go down. 
To ring the bells of London town. 


Halfpence and farthings, 
Say the bells of St. Martin's. 

Oranges and lemons, 

Say the bells of St. Clement's 

Pancakes and fritters, 
Say the bells of St. Peter's. 

Two sticks and an apple, 
Say the bells of Whitechapel. 

Kettles and pans. 

Say the bells of St. Anne's. 

You owe me ten shillings. 
Say the bells of St. Helen's. 

When will you pay me ? 
Say the bells of Old Bailey. 

When I grow rich. 

Say the bells of Shoreditch. 

Pray when will that be? 
Say the bells of Stepney. 

I am sure I don't know, 
Says the great bell of Bow. 



It is surprising how many ordinary things will 
produce bell music. Flower pots make very good 
bells which sound pleasing when tapped on the 
outside with a small wooden hammer. These pots 
may be suspended by a string tied to a small 
piece of wood placed inside the pot, the wood being 
too large to slip through the hole in the bottom 
of the pot. 

The flower pots in Figure 175 were selected accord- 
ing to their tones. The salesman in the store was 
kind enough to allow all the pots on the shelf to 
be tapped, and finally five were found that were 

Fig. 175. Flower pots used as hells 

in tune for playing a simple melody. One boy 
collected several old ones in his mother's cellar, 



washed them, and found three that sounded exactly 
right for the first three notes of the scale. One may 
play ** Hot-Cross Buns" or other three-note tunes, 

Yellow mixing howls used as hells 

and one may also compose any number of tunes on 
three flower pots, or other forms of bells that are 
in tune. 

Goblets and even ordinary drinking glasses will 
produce clear, bell-like tones, though some glasses 
produce tones that are more musical than others. 

Experiment: Find a goblet that has a clear, bell-like 
ring when it is tapped on the side. Fill it half full of 
water and tap it again. What has happened to the tone ? 
Put various amounts of water in it and test the tone each 
time. What seems to be the rule about changing the 
tone of glass ? 

If glasses are selected with care and properly tuned with 
water, very sweet music may be made by tapping these 
glass bells with a soft hammer. A small wooden hammer 
covered with felt is best. (A little block of pine, whit- 
tled into a round form and fastened on the end of a 
slender stick, makes an excellent hammer.) The glasses 

432 BELLS 

should rest on something soft. If bubbles form inside 
the glass, stir them out, for they deaden the tone. Why 
do they? 

Teacups and bowls of all kinds may be used for 
music making. Earthenware kitchen bowls may 
be sorted according to their tones and tuned with 
water as glasses are tuned. They should be tapped 
on the outside, near the rim. Figure 176 shows a 
collection of yellow kitchen bowls that were selected 
in a department store for their tones, and suspended 
on rods that had little wooden disks on the ends to 
fit the bottoms of the bowls. In this position they 
look more like bells, but the sound is no better than 
when the bowls stand on a cloth-covered table. 
The scheme shown in the picture requires that the 
bowls be in tune naturally, and it is difficult to 
find more than three or four bowls that sound the 
desired scale notes without putting any water in 

Copper kettles, saucepans, and even bottles have 
served as bells where nothing better could be 

Metal tubing may be cut into pieces of various 
lengths, and with these many interesting experi- 
ments in sound may be tried. If all the pieces are 
cut from tubing of the same size, their tones may 
be regulated merely by their length. ^ Brass tub- 
ing one-half inch in diameter is a convenient size 
to use. 

'See paragraph about the tubaphone on p. 156. 


Wooden bells may be made by hollowing out two 
pieces of wood and gluing them together. Or a 
large block of wood may be converted into a bell by 
hollowing it out with a lathe. If no lathe is to be 
had, holes may be bored into the block with a large 
bit to the depth of the opening desired, and the 
remaining partitions between the holes may be 
chiseled out. It is interesting to observe how the 

Fig. 177. Wooden bells made by school children 

tone of the block of wood, when struck with a 
wooden mallet, changes as it becomes more and 
more hollowed out. The greater the diameter of 
the cavity, the lower the tone becomes. 

From a collection of twenty wooden bells made 
by a group of school children, without any attempt 
to make definite tones, a complete scale of one 
octave was obtained, and when these were selected 
from the others, arranged in order, and suspended, 
various tunes were played on them. Most of these 



bells were made of blocks of redwood or white pine. 
Some of them are shown in Figure 177. 

Pottery bells may be made at home or at school 
if there is a convenient kiln for firing them. Figure 
178 shows a few clay bells made by children in school. 
They were built up from coils of clay and shaped 
with the hands, both inside and out. Some have 
holes in the top through which they are hung; 
others have handles that are built on, with clay. 
The thinner these built-up clay bells are, the clearer 
the tone. They should dry for several days before 
they are fired. 

Two of the bells in Figure 179 are also built up 
with coils of clay, and afterward cut down quite 
thin. The others are molded in plaster molds made 
from cast metal bells. 

It is very difficult to make clay bells and have 
them come out of the firing-kiln with any certain 

Fig. 178. Clay hells made by school children 


tone because the baking of the clay changes the 
pitch. This general rule, however, may be remem- 
bered : All other things being equal, the thinner the 

Fig. 179. Clay hells, the first three made in plaster molds, 
the other two, coiled 

bell, the lower the tone; and the greater the diam- 
eter, the lower the tone. 

After a clay bell has dried for several days, and 
before it is fired, its tone may be tried and changed 
a bit. Sandpapering the lower edge will raise the 
tone, and sandpapering the inside will lower it. A 
knife may be used instead of the sandpaper. After 
the bell is fired it is so hard and brittle that tuning 
is a very tedious process. 

If a large group of people make bells of different 
thickness and different diameters, it is probable 
that several notes of the same scale may be found, 
or perhaps several groups of notes. In a recent 
school experiment a few bells were made and allowed 
to dry for a week, and then tuned to scale notes 
before they were fired. They were all put into the 
kiln at the same time, and came out almost exactly 

436 BELLS 

in tune with each other, although the entire scale 
had been raised several tones. 

Plaster molds may be made as follows: 
(i) Find a metal bell of the shape desired for the new 
bell. Remove the handle and fill the hole with 
clay. If no pattern bell is to be had, a jelly glass 
with a round bottom may be used; or a bowl or 
a bell-shaped vase (if it does not close in at the 
top) will do. 

(2) Roll out a thin layer of clay on a board and set the 
pattern bell or glass on it, upside down. 

(3) An inch or more from the bell, place a retaining wall 

of some kind to hold the plaster. This wall may 
be a round cylinder of linoleum, or a round box 
with no bottom in it. If nothing round is to be 
had, the retaining wall may be made of four 
squares of glass supported and "chinked" together 
with clay so the plaster will not run out at the 

(4) Rub a little soapsuds over the bell so it will slip 
out of the plaster when the time comes. 

(5) Dissolve the plaster to the right consistency, and 
then pour it over the bell, filling up the retaining 

(6) In a few minutes the plaster will be " set " and firm 
enough to remove the wall, turn the plaster over, 
and take out the bell. This must be done very 
carefully, lest the smooth surface of the bell 
impression be broken. 

(7) This mold should be allowed to dry in a warm 
place for several days. It is not ready for use 
until all the moisture is gone, and it feels dry to 
the hand. 


To make the bell : 

(i) The clay must be dissolved to a thick cream, and 
strained, so that all the lumps are removed. 
This liquid clay is called *'slip." 

(2) Pour the slip into the mold, filling it to the top. 

In a minute or two it will have to be filled again, 
and even again perhaps, for as the plaster mold 
absorbs the water the mass of slip sinks down. 
A layer of clay may be seen forming around the 
edge of the cavity, and becoming a little firmer 
than the rest of the slip. 

(3) As soon as this layer becomes as thick as the 

desired bell (requiring probably from fifteen to 
thirty minutes) , lift the mold and pour out all of the 
slip that will flow out. Experiment will enable one 
to regulate the thickness of the bell by the length 
of time the slip is left in the mold. 

(4) Set the mold aside and the plaster will absorb enough 
moisture from the layer of clay to allow it to 
become firm. As the moisture leaves it, the clay 
shrinks a little. Sometimes the outside edge of 
the clay sticks to the mold in one or two places, 
causing the clay to crack as it shrinks. To pre- 
vent this, run a thin knife blade under the edge of 
the clay before it shrinks much. 

(5) In several hours, or a day perhaps, the new bell may 
be lifted from the mold and placed out in the air 
to diy. It must be handled with exceeding care, 
lest it break or lose its shape. 

(6) Next day it may be trimmed with a knife, so that 
the mouth of the bell is smooth and clean. It 
is best if the bell is allowed to dry for a week or 
more before it is fired. 



The mold should not be used until it has had time 
to become thoroughly dry again. 

If a group of children can make molds of different 
sizes, and in them mold bells of different thick- 
nesses, there is great likelihood of having enough 
different toned bells to play tunes on them. (See 
below the music for a simple tune to be played 
upon three bells.) The experiments tried by the 
writer indicated that clay bells sound best when 
not glazed. 










Ding, dong ! 




Hear the mer - ry bells ring - ing! 






Ding, dong! 




^ S 

Hear the mer - ry bells ring! 


Many people are interested in making clay bells 
merely for the pleasure of molding with the hands 
beautiful shapes and designs, with no thought of 

'I / 1 J 'T J' } V iJJ I -I f I 

. ^ . . : ^f^' 

Fig. 180. A bell quartet 

using the bells for musical purposes. Clay bells 
may be inscribed, decorated, and painted in number- 
less designs. 

Figure 180 shows four children playing on a set 
of metal bells cast in tune by a maker of Swiss hand 
bells. They are playing the four parts of a slow 
hymn. Since metal bells continue to vibrate so 
long after they are struck, very slow music is best 
suited to them. 



There are two and one-half octaves, low G to 
high C, with C sharp and F sharp added, these 
being fastened a little higher than the others. 

The following chorale is a suitable quartet for 
such a range of bells as those in Figure i8o and, 
when well played, it is very effective. 


Very slowly 


A 1 J. A J 

By Martin Luther 

^ I^ 



^ «^ f^ 

^—& ^ 



To shep-herds as they watched by night 

Tenor /C> 








Ap-peared a troop of an - gels bright. 





T f-r r u ^ r f 




-^' -^- 

yU4:^ J 






'Be - hold the 


ten - der Babe," they said, 






^Aj J J 









H h 

cres. .....'/ ritard. 

"In yon - der low - ly man - ger laid." 




-^— j— j— i-gi- 





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Abi^ssinia, sistrum in, 24 

Accidents, caused by vibrations, 

Aerschodt, bell founder, 208 

Affection for bells, legends of, 1-4, 

Africa, bells of: on Benin girls, 20; 
in ceremonial rattle, 18; on ele- 
phants, 12 ; music of, 21 ; used by- 
royalty, 18-19; wooden, 11, 15, 

Alarm bell, 112, 391 

Alfred the Great: erects first bel- 
fry, 361; originates curfew, 38, 

Alost, carillons from, 216 

Alps, Tyrolese, storm bells of, 91 

"Ambroise Bell," Rouen, 233 

America, bells of, 32, 268-93; 
bronze, 32; carillons, 214, 289- 
93; chimes, 275-77, 284-89; 
colonial, 268-75; cowbells, 385; 
curfew, 105; fovmdries, 186; of 
national interest, 283-84; Span- 
ish missions, 241, 277—83 

Amnor, Hindu sacred bells from, 

Amsterdam, carillons of, 211, 217- 


Ancient civilization: bells of, 22- 

33; Assyria, 22-23; Central and 

South America, 32-33; China, 

22; Egypt, 23—25; Greece and 

Rome, 26-31; Judea, 25-26; 

Turkey, 31-32 
Angelus bell, 98-100 
Animals, bells on. See Buffaloes; 

Cattle; Dogs; Elephants; 

Horses; Monkeys; Reindeer; 

Ankle bells: dancing symbol, 390; 

(Egypt) 390; (India; 339, 390; 

(Japan) 325, 390 
Anne, Queen, bells given colonies 

by, 269 
Antler, used to strike bell (Burma) , 

342, 346. 356 
Antwerp Cathedral, carillon of, 

Arabia, bells of, 391 

Architecture, bells and, 359-76; 
campaniles, 370-75; Christian 
church (early), 359-62 (later 
development), 375-76; defini- 
tion of terms, 368-70; municipal 
bell towers, 366-68; round 
towers, 364-66 
"Armada: a Fragment, The," 

quoted, ill 
Armagh, bells of: "Blessed Bell," 
52; modem, 242; St. Patrick's, 
Armistice, bells announce, 5 
Art of Ringing, The, quoted, 129 
Asia, bells of, 12, 351. See also 
Buddhism, bells and; Burma 
bells of; China, bells of; India 
bells of; Japan, bells of 
Assyria, bells of, 22-23, 59. I49 
Athelney, first belfry at, 361 
" Atri, Bell of," Longfellow, 404-8 

raentioned, 267, 306 
Aughagower, bell of, legend, 54 
Ave bell. See Angelus bell 
Avignon: bell legend of, 250 

"Ringing City," 233 
Aztecs, clay bells of, 33 

Backward ringing of bells, 1 12-13 
Bahama, negroes of, dance to 

bells, 20 
Bamboo bells, 17 
Banda Island, Javanese bells of, 21 
Bangor, bishop of, bell legend, 248 
Baptism of bells, 84-95; by Catho- 
lics, 95; ceremony, 86-89; Char- 
lemagne forbids, 86; names, 92; 
in Middle Ages, 85; powers 
derived from, 85-86, 90-91; by 
Protestants, 93-95; traditions, 
Barnstable, Mass., bell of, 268 
Barrel carillon. See Tambour 

Bavaria, bell of, 235 
Becket, Thomas a, bells announce 

murder of, 250 
Beckett, Sir Edmund, chose West' 

minster chimes, 167-68 
Bade, quoted, 36 





Belfries: defined, 369-70; early 
116, 361-62; in Grecian islands, 
117; of Japan, 320, 322; tree, 

"Belfry of Bruges, The," Long- 
fellow, 419-21 

Belgium: bell legend of, 250; 
carillons of, 185, 192, 194, 198, 
200, 208, 241; chimes of, 184; 
Ghent bell, 239-40 

Bell, Mr., quoted, 52-53 

Bell: in architectural terms, 368- 
70; defined, 11 n.; derivation, 
12 n.; materials of, 60, 377; 
names, 92; parts, 69; propor- 
tions, 45-46, 70-71 

Bell blessing. See Baptism of 

Bell-buffalo (India), 20 

Bell Collection, Miller. See Mil- 
ler Bell Collection 

Bell cow, Hindu, dedication of, 


Bell grove, 13-14 

Bell hanging. See Hanging of 

Bell lore. See Legends, bell 

Bellman, English, 378 

"Bellman," Herrick, 379 

"Bell oath," 47-48 

"Bell of Atri, The," Longfellow, 
404-8; mentioned, 267, 306 

"Bell of Blood," 53-54 

Bell ringers, 154, 234; legend of, 
263. See also Change ringing; 
Ringing societies 

Bell towers, 97; Chinese, 308; 
defined, 369; early, 362; Ivan, 
220-27, 375; kinds of, 116; 
legend ascribed to, 314; in 
Peking, 310-11; in Saxon de- 
crees, 39. See also Municipal 
bell towers and Belfries 

"Bells, The," Poe, 425-28 

Bells, poetry of, 402-29 

Bells, uses of, 4-8; 377-94; as 
alarm, 112, 391; bell oath, 53- 
54; by dancers, 325; to cure 
illness, 256; at street shows, 340; 
by watchmen, 159. See also 
under countries; Animals; 
Church bells; Domestic uses of 
bells; Dress, bells on; Legends, 
bell; Military; Religious uses 
of bells; National uses of bells; 

"Bells of San Bias, The," Long- 
fellow, 414-16 
Bible, quoted, 25, 60-61 
"Big Bell Temple" (China), 311- 

"Big Ben" (London), 168, 169-77, 

"Black Bell of Drumragh," legend 

of, 51-52 
"Black Bell" of St. Patrick, 43 
Blacksmith, early bell maker, 18 
"Blood, Bell of," 53-54 
Boat bells, 391 
Bodoahpra, King, Mingon Bell 

and, 344 
"Bonnie Dundee," quoted, 112-13 
Bordeaux, bell tower of, 367 
Boris Godunov. See Godunov, 

Boston, bells of, 269-71, 274 
"Boston Stump" carillon, 211 
Bottles as bells, 432 
Bow bells, London, 109-10; legend, 

Bowls as bells, 432 
Brahmin priests, bells used by, 

Brasses, bell part, 119 
Brazil, wooden bell of, 15 
Brees, Anton, carillonneur, 208, 

Brick framework, in bell manufac- 
ture, 65 
"Brigid, The Broken Bell of," 

story, 42-43 
Bristol University bell, 246 
"Bronze Bell of Cumascach," 46 
Bronze bells (Assyria), 59; (Cen- 
tral America), 32; (Ireland), 46 
Bronze foundries, Chinese, 297-98 
Bruges, carillon of, 200, 203 
"Bruges, The Bell of," Longfellow, 

Buddha, bells used in worship of, 
298,301,311; (Japan), 316, 323- 
24, 351, 352-58. See also Budd- 
hism, bells and 
Buddhism, bells and, 342, 351-58; 
in Japan, 319; in monasteries, 
352-55; music of, 357-58. See 
also Buddha, bells used in 
worship of 
Buffalo, sacred (India), 333-34; 

bell worn by, 20, 334 
Buildings, ancient, towerless, 359 
Bull carts, bells on (India), 340 



Bunyan, John, and bell ringing, 


Buoys, bells on, 391 

Buried church bells, legends of, 

Burma, bells of, 341-50; casting, 
341-42; on Naga women, 19-20; 
on pagodas, 342-46; story-in- 
scription, 347-50. See also 
Buddha, bells used in worship 
of; Buddhism, bells and 

Bumey, Dr. Charles, 215; on 
carillons, 215-19 

Calais, loses bell to Monmouth, 40 
California: bell collection of, 395- 

401; missions of, 279, 281, 282 
Calixtus III, Pope, donor of Kings 

College peal, 125 
Cambridge, Kings College peal, 


Cambridge Chimes, 166-68 

Cambridge quarters, 213, 284 

Camel bells, 386 

Campana, 96 n., 97 n. 

Campania, Italy, belfry of, 35 

Campaniles, of Italy, 370-75; of 
Russia, 375 

Campanologia, 139 

Campanology, art of, 179 

Candles burning, as time measure, 

Cannon, made from bells, 238 

Canonical hours, bells announce, 
158, 159 

Canterbury Cathedral, St. Dun- 
stan's bell of, 243 

Canterbury Pilgrims, 385 

Canton, tabooed bell of, 309, 352; 
legend of, 309-10 

Caravan bells, 386 

"Carillon," Longfellow, 416-18 

Carillonneur, 190 

Carillons, 187-219; automatic, 
188-89, 194; bells in, 192; Dr. 
Bumey on, 215-19; compared to 
chimes, 187-88; countries hav- 
ing, 192-94; defined, 179; de- 
scribed, 187; development of, 
194-95; estimate, 196; a Gothic 
invention, 216; makers of, 196- 
98; methods of playing, 188- 
90; music of (beauty), 199, 
(education through), 196; 
popularity, 214, 246; recitals, 

Carillons, important, 200-14; in 
America, 213-14, 289-93; Ant- 
werp, 207-8; Bruges, 200-3; in 
England, 211-12; in France, 
211; in Germany, 211; Ghent, 
208; in Holland, 211; Mechlin, 
203-7; Middelburg, 208-11 

Castanets, defined, ii n. 

Cast bell, defined, 62-64 

Casting of bells, early, 57, 59-66; 
ceremony, 60-61, (Japan) 320- 
22; early method, 62-65; in 
Japan, 320-22; later method, 
65-66; spread of art of, 62 

Casting of bells, modern, 66-68; 
Big Ben, 169-70; in Burma, 
341-42; time taken in, 68 

Catacombs, 34 

Catholic churches, bells of, 351; 
Angelus, 98-100; baptism of, 95; 
sanctus bell, 97-98 

Cattle bells: America, 385; Egypt, 
23; Greece and Rome, 27, 28; 
India, 333-35- 339; Switzerland, 

Celebrations: for bell, 94-95; 
bells used in (Chinese), 308, 
(Japanese) 325. See also Reli- 
gious uses of bells 

Cellini, Benvenuto, silver bell of, 


Celtic bell lore, 47-56, 262-63 

Ceremonies, bells used in, 16; 
(Chinese) 298. See also Reli- 
gious uses of bells 

Ceylon, bells on elephants of, 338 

Change ringing, 127-37; in Amer- 
ica, 269; Bunyan and, 134-35; 
effect, 136, 137; in England, 
135-37. 194; method, 127-28, 
129-34, 136; popularity of, 
128-29, 136; progress in, 138-39; 
societies for, 138-48; terms, 131- 

Change - Ringing Disentangled, 
quoted, 129-32 

Chao-hao, time measure of, 294 

Charlemagne, magic bell of, 248; 
forbids baptism of bells, 86; and 
Tancho, 38-39 

Charleston, S. C., chimes of, his- 
tory, 275-77 

Chime barrel, 182-84 

Chimes, 178-86; in America, 186, 
284-89; automatic, develop- 
ment of, 180-81; number of 



bells, 185; Cambridge and West- 
minster, 166-68; compared to 
carillons, 187-88; Christmas, 
114; clock, 123; defined, 178-79; 
in England, 186; methods of 
playing, 164-66, 178-80, 182- 
86; of St. Michael's Church, 
Charleston, 275-77; of St. Paul's 
Cathedral, 95; tubular bells as, 

China, bells of, 294-308; ancient, 
22, 57, 294-97; as charms, 352; 
worn by children, 352; clapper- 
less, 299-303; composition, 297; 
form, 298-99; foundries, 297-98; 
in Japan, 319; as justice bells, 
266, 306; legends, 309-15; pecu- 
liarity, 297; as scale tone stand- 
ard, 149, 294, 295, 298; as sig- 
nals, 295; in temples, 298, 300, 
302, 303, 304, 305, 308, 311, 
314, 356; as time markers, 294; 
varied uses of, 298, 308, 351; 
wooden, 16, 304-5 

Chorale for bell quartet, 439 

Christ Church, Boston, bells of, 

Christ Church, Philadelphia, 
chimes of, 269 

Christening of bells. See Bap- 
tism of bells 

Christening peal, 98 

Christian architecture. See Church 

Christianity, bells of: and of 
Buddhism, compared, 357; early, 
30, 34-40, 57. 150, 351; brought 
to England, 36. See also Bap- 
tism of bells; Church bells; 
Religious uses of bells 

Christmas, bells at, 1 13-14, 380, 
387; legends of, 252-53 

Chun, unifies bell tones, 295 

Chung, Chinese name for bell, 298 

Church architecture, early, 359- 
68; development of, 375-76 

Church bells, Christian: early, 34— 
40; importance of, in England, 
96; tower development due to, 
359-61; uses of, 69-70, 96-115, 
158. See also Baptism of bells; 
Christianity, bells of; Religious 
uses of bells 

Church of England, bell legisla- 
tion of, 39 

Church organ. See Organs 

Churchyard, bells in, 116 

Cincinnati Bell Foundry, 186 

Cire-perdu (Burmese method of 
casting), 341 

Civilizations, ancient. See An- 
cient civilizations 

"Clappering," 121 

Clapperless bells (China): 298- 
303; method of striking, 302-3 

Clappers, 68, 118; double, 123; of 
ancient Irish bells, 41; movable 
(Russia), 228; wooden (China), 

Claughton, Lancashire, bell of, 242 
Clavier carillon, 189-90; develop- 
ment of, 195 
Clay, in bell manufacture, 64, 65, 

Clay bells: of Aztecs and Incas, 33 ; 
for Feast of St. Paulinus, 35; 
making, 433-39 
Clement VII, Pope, bell of, 231-32 
Clepsydra, 158 

Clock bells, 158-68; ancestors of 
chimes, 180; development of, 
158-59; figures on, 159-62; 
mechanism of, 164-66; music of, 
166-68; St. Mark's, 160; Stras- 
burg, 159-60; Westminster, 159, 
Clock chimes. See Chimes 
Clocks: striking, 159; weight- 
driven, 159 
Clock tower, first in New York, 
274; modem, mechanism of, 
164-66; oldest in England, 159 
"Clog-Oir," legend, 54-55 
Clondalkin Round Tower, 365 
Clotaire II, bell legend of, 84, 247 
Coach, bells announce, iii 
" Cockney," no n. 
Coins, Leningrad bell made of, 228 
College of the Holy Spirit and 
St. Mary, London, bells of, 138 
College Youths, Society of, 138, 

Cologne, bells of, 95, 235, 238 
Colonies, American, bells of, 268- 

75; substitutes for, 275 
"Columbian Liberty Bell," 284 
"Conall Cael, Bell of," legend, 54 
Confucius: bells used in worship 

of, 300, 302; quoted, 304 
Consecrated bells, power of, 85- 

86, 90-91, 255-56 
Constantino, Emperor, 34 



Cope (bell part), 64, 66 

Copts, maraouth used by, 24 

Core (bell part), 64, 65, 66 

Corrigiiinculurn, 97 

Costumes, bells on. See Dress, 

bells on 
Cowbells: in America, 385; in 

India, 333-35. 339; in Switzer- 
land, 384-85 
Cowper, "How Soft the Music of 

Those Village Bells," 411 
Cows, Hindu sacred, 333, 334-35 
Crimean War, bells rung at close 

of, 146 
Criminals, bells and, 27, 248-50 
Crosby-Brown collection, bells in 

Metropolitan Museum, 377 
Crotal bells, 384 

Crotch, Dr., composer of Cam- 
bridge chimes, 167 
Croydon foundry. See Gillett & 

Johnston, bell founders 
Croyland, abbot of, 36-37 
Cruikshank, illustrator of bell 

legend, 248 
"Cumascach, Bronze Bell of," 46; 

magic powers of, 52-53 
Cumberland Society of Change 

Ringers, 139 
Cups as bells, 432 
Curfew bell, 103-6; in America, 

105; in London, 14th century, 

104-5; in Middle Ages, 3-4; 

origin, 38, 103-4; in Oxford, 105; 

poems, 105-6; during World 

War, 105 
Curiosities of the Belfry, 143 
Cuthbert, St., bells used by, 36 
Cymbalium, 97 n. 
Cymbals, defined, 11 n., 153 

Dambeck, Germany, bell legend 

of, 258-59 
Dampers, to lessen vibration, 157 
Dancers, bells of: China, 308; 
Egypt, 390; India, 339; Japan, 
325; Morris, 21 
Dancing, bells used in, 20, 21 
Danger signals, bells used as, iii 
David, King, music of, 150, 153- 

David, St., bell of, legend, 49 
Death knell, 10 1-2. See also 

Debussy, "Disappearing Cathe- 
dral," 252 

Decoration, bells as. See Dress, 

bells on 
Decoration on bells, 64-65, 66, 

74, 80, (Russia) 225-26, (Spain) 

Delft, carillon of, 211 
Denmark, bells of: legends, 254- 

55, 258; Odense, 238 
Dennys, N. B., quoted, 314-15, 

Denyn, Joseph, carillonneur, 204; 

carillon school, 205; concerts, 

204, 205-7, 291 
Devil's death knell, 114 
Direction determined by bells, 17, 

Dogs, hunting, bells on, 387 
Domestic uses of bells (Egypt), 

23-24; (Rome), 28; hand bells 

in, 380-82; on the farm, 391; 

electric, 392 
Double clapper, 123 
"Dref Bell," Sweden, 239 
Dress, bells as, 19-20, 390 
Dress, bells on, 390-91; in Arabia, 

391; babies (China), 308, 310; 

in Egypt, 23; fools, 390; high 

priest, 25, 390 
"Drumragh, Black Bell of," leg- 
end, 51-52 
Drums: in Africa, 21; in China, 

294, 295, 302, 310; defined, 

II n.; in Mechlin carillon, 204; 

in New Hebrides, 12 
Drum Tower, Peking, 310 
Dublin Cathedral, peals of, 125 
Dumery family, bell founders, 196, 

198, 203, 208 
Dunkeld, story of, 40 
Dunraven, Lord, bell experiment 

of, 365-66 
Dupla, 97 n. 
Dustman's bell, 379-80 
Dutch church, N. Y., first tower 

clock in N. Y., 274; Dutch Re- 
formed Church, N. Y., 269 
Dragon, bell adjunct (Japan), 323; 

legend, 328-29 
Dwarfs, bell legend of, 263-65 

Earthquake, bells protected from 
(Grecian islands), 117 

East and West, bells of, com- 
pared, 357 

Easter bell legend, 91, 255-56 

Eastern Scholars, Society of, 139 



East India, use of bells by Pegu 

of, 21 
Ecclesiastical Architecture, History 

of, quoted, 375-76 
Ecuador, Indians of, use of bells 

by, 21 
Edward VII, King, bells tolled at 

death of, 5 
Egbert, King, orders ringing of 

bells, 38 
Egypt, bells of, 23-25, 390 
Electric bell, mechanism of, 392- 

Electricity, chimes played b3^ 185 
" Elegy in a Country Churchyard," 

quoted, 105 
Elephants, bells used on, (Asia) 

12, (Greece and Rome) 27, 

(India) 338 
Elizabeth, Queen, stops Hallow- 
e'en bell ringing, 102-3 
Ellacombe, Rev. H. T., quoted, 

"Emanuel," bell of Notre Dame, 

"Emperor," bell of Cologne, 238 
Engakuji, Kamakura (Japan), bell 

of, 318-19; legend, 326-27 
England, bells of, 36, 56, 95, 159, 

242-46; in American colonies, 

268, 269; carillons, 193-94, 211- 

12; chimes, 125, 126, 184, 186; 

foundries, 186; legends, 260-62; 

national instrument, 135-36; 

the "Ringing Isle," 128, 135, 

139. 193- See also "Big Ben" 

and Change ringing 
England, old: bellman, 378-79; 

Christmas bell, 114; church 

bell, 96; Morris dancers, 21, 390 
English inscriptions on bells, 76 
Erfurt, Saxony, bell of, 237 
Etruscan bells: found in tombs, 

30, 149; used for music, 149 
Europe, bells of, 220-46; clocks, 

159; inscriptions, 80-83; legends, 

247-67. See also under names 

of countries 
Evening bell, 108 
Evil spirits, power of bells over, 

85-86, loo-i, (India) 338, 351 
Excommunication, by "bell, book, 

and candle," 113 
Executions, bells used at, 382-83 
Exeter Cathedral: chimes of, 137, 

186; "Great Peter of," 242 

Factory bells, 391 

Fair bells, ill 

Fairs, Russian, bells sold at, 230 . 

Falconry, bells used in, 386-87 

"False bell," in bell manufacture, 

Farm bells, 391 

Feng-ling, Chinese wind bell, 306-8 

Fielding, Mr., quoted, 48 

Figures, automatic, on clock bell, 

Fiji Islands, Lali in, 14-15 

Fire bells, 108, 391; inscription, 79 

Fish pendants on bells (Japan, 
Korea), 325 

Flag Feast, Japan, bells used at, 

Flemish town belfries, 368 

Florence, campanile of, 373-75 

Flower pots, as bells, 430-31 

Fools' bells, 390 

Founders, bell: early, 61, 62; leg- 
ends of, (Ireland) 262-63, 
(Japan) 327-28 

Founding, bell. See Casting of 

Foundries, 59; America, 186, 274; 
China, 297-98; early, 60; Eng- 
land, 186 

France, bells of, 232-34; belfries, 
368; carillons, 192, 208, 211; 
legends, 247, 250, 256-57; ring- 
ers, 234; storm, 91; table, 381 

Francis I of France, 234; deprived 
towns of bells, 234 

Freiburg, bell of, 235 

French Revolution, bells rung for, 

Fritters bell, 107 

Funeral bells, 26, 51-52, 383; leg- 
end of, 52 

Gabriel bell, 97. See also Angelus 

Garden of Bells. See Miller Bell 

Garments. See Dress, bells as; 
Dress, bells on 

Gate bell, 108 

Germany, bells of, 234-37; caril- 
lons, 192, 211; legends, 251-52, 
257-58. 258-59, 263-65 

Ghent: bell of, 239-40; carillon, 
208, 215-16 

Gheyn, Pieter. See Van den 
Gtieyn, Pieter 



Ghuntas, Indian hand bells, 335-37 
Giants, bell legend of, 265-66 
Gilbert, W. S., quoted, 178 
Gillett & Johnston, bell founders, 

166, 198, 211, 213, 289-90 
Giotto, architect, 373-75 
Glass bells, 60 
Glasses as bells, 431 
Gleaning bell, 109 
Glenwood Mission Inn, California, 

Miller Bell Collection in, 395 
Gloucester, "Great Peter" of, 243 
Gloucester, Mass., carillon of, 289 
Goblets as bells, 431 
Godunov, Czar Boris, donor of 

Cathedral of St. Nicholas bell, 

Gog and Magog, 162 
Gold, in bells, 60 
Gold bells (Panama), 32 
"Golden Bell of St. Senan," 47 
Gongs: as church bells (Ireland), 

118; defined, 11 n.; Japanese, 

150; orchestral bells, 155-56; as 

signal, 295; stone, 17 
Graveyard, bells in, 116 
Gray, "Elegy in a Country 

Churchyard," quoted, 105 
"Great Paul," St. Paul's Cathe- 
dral, 246 
"Great Peter," Exeter, 242 
"Great Peter," Gloucester, 243 
"Great Peter," York, 245 
Great Plague of London, bell rung 

during, 382 
"Great Tom," Lincoln, 243-44 
"Great Tom," Oxford, 244 
"Great Tom," Westminster, 162, 

245; story of, 163-64 
Grecian islands, bells of, 117 
Greece, ancient, bells of, 26-27, 

29. 30-31 
Greenbie, M. B., quoted, 356-58 
Gudgeons (bell part), 119 

Hallowe'en, bell ringing at, 102-3 
Hammers, to ring bells, 118, 164 
Hand bells: 378-83; of bellman, 

378-80; for domestic uses, 380- 

82; in India, 335-37; in Japan, 

Handel, quoted, 135 
Hang-chow, tolling rime of, 353 
Hanging of bells, 116-24; early, 

116; to avoid accidents, 117; 

methods, 118-20, 124; "clap- 

pering," 121; mechanism, 122- 

Hanks family, first American bell 
foundry, 274 

Hanuman, monkey god (India), 

Hart, Mrs. Ernest, quoted, 341-42 

Harvard College, bells of, 268 

Harvest bell, 109 

Hauptmann, "The Sunken Bell," 

Haverals, Gerard Gommaire, caril- 
lonneur, 203-4 

Hawks, bells on, 387 

Healing, bells with power of, 48- 
50, 52-53 

Hebrew priest, bells of, 25, 352, 

Hebrews, bells of, 25-26 

Hemony, Franz and Pieter, bell 
founders, 196, 198, 203, 208, 211 

Henry II, restores bells of Bor- 
deaux, 234 

Henry Ill's reign, bells of, 59 

Henry V, gives bell of Calais to 
Monmouth, 40 

Henry VIII, and bells, 102, 243 

Herrick, "Bellman," 379 

Hilda, St., bell legend of, 84, 250- 

Hindus, use of bells by, 332-38 

Hiriadeva, Hindu bell god, 334 

History of Ecclesiastical Architec- 
ture, quoted, 375-76 

Hiuen-chung, Chinese bell, 301-2 

Hoang-ti, fixes scale tones, 294 

Holland, bells of: carillons, 192, 
194, 200, 216, 241; in colonies, 
268, 269; legends, 252-53 

Holstein, bell legends of, 257-58, 

Holy bell, 97 

"Holy Ghost bell," Strasburg, 108 

Holy Innocents bell, 100 

Horses, bells on, 387-90; in Amer- 
ica, 385; in Asia, 385; in ancient 
Assyria, 22; in Canterbury Pil- 
grifns, 385; in Egypt, 23; in 
Greece and Rome, 26, 27, 28; 
in India, 340; in Japan, 324; in 
Judea, 25 

Hourglass, 158 

House bell, 381-82 

"How Soft the Music of Those 
Village Bells," Cowper, 411 

"Hum tone," 73 



Hunting dogs, bells on, 387 

Iceland, bells of, 116 

Incas of Peru, bells of, 32, 33 

"Inchcape Rock, The," Southey, 

402-4; mentioned, 391 
"Incident of the Fire at Ham- 
burg, An," Lowell, 408-10 
Independence Hall Bell, 283 
India, bells of, 332-40; to attract 
attention, 340; cowbell of, 20; on 
dancers, 339, 390; on elephants, 
338;_on field cattle, 339, 385; 
religious uses of, 333-37; wind, 
339. See also Buddhism, bells 
Indians, use of bells by, 20-21 
Indulgences, at consecration of 

bell, 90 
"In Memoriam," Tennyson, 411- 


"Inn of Bells." See Miller Bell 

Inscriptions, bell: 66, 74-84; Big 
Ben, 170; Buddhist, 355; Bur- 
mese, 341-42, 342, 346-47, 347- 
50; English, 76; Great Bell of 
Moscow, 226; Japanese, 356; 
Latin, 74-75, 76, 401; musical, 
75-76; Runic, 239 

Ireland, bells of, 30, 242; belfries, 
116; church, gong for, 118; leg- 
ends, 47-56, 262-63; round 
towers, 364-66; sacred, 41-46 

Isis, sistrum used in worship of, 24 

Italy, bells of, 231-32; of baked 
earth, 385; campaniles, 370-75; 
legends, 255-56, 263, 266-67; for 
Russia, 220; table, 380-81; 
towers, 116 

Ivanovna, Empress Anna, donor 
of bell, 223 

Ivan Tower, bells of, 220-27, 375 

Jacks, in England, 160-62 

"Jacquelin." Paris, 233 

Japan, bells of, 316-25; belfries, 
320, 322; casting, 320-22; danc- 
ers, 390; fire, 391; legends, 326- 
31; method of ringing, 322; 
temple, 356-57; ^^ses, 323-25 

Japanese gongs, 150 

Javanese bells, Banda Island, 21 

Jersey bells, legend of, 253-54 

"Jesus Bells," St. Paul's church- 
yard, 243 

Jingle, defined, 11 n. 

"Jingling" bells, 18, 324 

John V of Portugal, carillons 

bought by, 192-93 
John XIII, Pope, names bell, 92 
Josephus, quoted, 25-26 
Judea, bells of, 25-26 
Justice, bells of, 266-67; Chinese, 

Jutland, bell legend of, 254-55 

Kamakura, Engakuji, bell of, 318- 

Keitum, Denmark, bell legend of, 

Kenan's Convent, legend of bell of, 

Kettles: African, 21; as bells, 432 
Keyboard carillon. See Clavier 

King. See Royalty 
Kings Chapel, Boston, bell in, 274 
Kings College, Cambridge, peal 

of, 125 
Kioto, great bell of, 316 
Kolokol, Czar. See Moscow, 

Great Bell of 
Korea, bells of, 319, 325, 356 
Kremlin, bells of, 223 
Krempe, Holstein, bell legend of, 


Laga, Sweden, bell legend of, 265- 

Lali, wooden bell, 14-15 
Lancashire bell ringers, 154 
Lateran Church (Rome), bell of, 

Laws on bells, 39, 362 
Leaning Tower of Pisa, 370-73 
Legends, bell: Celtic, 47-56, 262- 

63; Chinese, 309-15; English, 

260-62; European, 247, 250-52, 

254-59, 263-67; Japanese, 326- 

Leicester, St. Margaret's, peals of, 

Leningrad, bell in, made of coins, 

Levers, used with bells, 123, 124, 

Lexington, Mass., bell of, 273- 

Liberty Bell, story of, 271-73 
Lightfoot, Peter, clockmaker, 159 
Lighthouse bell, 391 



Limerick, Ireland, bell legend of, 

Lincoln, bells tolled at death of, 5 
Lincoln, "Great Tom" of, 243-44 
Ling-lun, fixed Chinese scale tones, 

Litholf, gift of, 37 
Lithuania, bell tradition of, 91-92 
Lochen, Holland, bell legend of, 


Lomax, Benjamin, quoted, 30, 

107-8, 121-22 
London: Bow Bells of, 109-10; 

curfew in, 104-5 

London Youths, Society of, 139 

Longfellow, "The Belfry of 

Bruges," 419-21; "The Bell of 

Atri," 404-8, (mentioned) 267, 

306; "The Bells of San Bias," 

414-16; "Carillon," 416-18; 

Golden Legend, quoted, 90; on 

carillons, 200, 203; "Song of 

the Bell," 424; "The Spire of 

Strasburg Cathedral," 421-23 

Lorenz, story of, 1-4 

Loughborough, carillon of, 211-12 

Louvain library, carillon of, 208 

Lowell, "An Incident of the Fire 

at Hamburg," 408-10 
Lus, Chinese tones, 300 
"Lych gate," bell hung in, 116 

Macaulay, "The Armada: a Frag- 
ment," quoted, iii 

Madness, bells to cure, 49-50 

Magic bells, 19, 231-32, 309. See 
also Legends, bell; Sacred bells 

Maha Ganda, Burmese bell, 342 

Maiden peal, 71 

Making of bells. See Manufac- 
ture, bell 

Malines. See Mechlin 

Malta, bells of, 91 

Mandalay, Great Bell of, 344; 
story of, 344-46 

Manufacture, bell, 57-73; rivet- 
ing, 57-58; casting, early, 59-66; 
modern, 67-73 

Maoris, New Zealand, Pahic of, 20 

Maraouth, used by Copts, 24 

" Maria Gloriosa," bell of Cologne, 

"Maria Gloriosa," bell of Saxony, 

Mark, bell maker's, 61, 80 

Market day, bells on, iio-ii 

Mary Queen of Scots, table bell of, 

Massacres, bells rung for, 112 
Mechanism of bells, 57-73, 122-23 
Mechlin, carillon of, 203-7; Denyn 

concerts, 204-7 
Medicine man, bell used by, 19 
Meneely Bell Foundry, Troy, 

N. Y., 168, 186, 274, 283, 287; 

quoted, 66-67 
Metal bells, first, 17-18; composi- 
tion of, 59-60 
Metal tubing, as bells, 432 
Metropolitan Museum, bells in, 

12, 377 
Metropolitan Tower, bells of, 168, 

Mexico: use of bells by Indians of, 

20-21; Yotl bells of, 33 
Middle Ages: baptism of bells, 85; 

bells in, 1-4, 37-39- 56, 153-54; 

bell towers of, 366, 367-68; 

figures on town clocks of, 159; 

personification of bells of, 74-75 
Middelburg, carillon of, 208-11 
Mii-dera bell (Japan), legends of, 

Military uses of bells, 20, 26, 28, 

29, 112, 366 
Miller Bell Collection, 395-401 
Mingon Bell, 344; story of, 344-46 
Missions, Spanish, 277-79, 282- 

83; bells of, 241, 279-82 
Mohammedans and bells, 31, 351 
Molding. See Casting of bells 
Monasteries: bells made in, 38; 

bells in, 158; (Buddhist) 352-55 
Monkeys: bells used before god, 

337; in India, used as symbols 

on bells, 337 
Monmouth, gets bell of Calais, 40 
Montferrand, Aug. de, engineer 

for Great Bell of Moscow, 225, 

Montreal Cathedral, bell of, 120 
Moore, Thomas, quoted, 31-32; 

"Those Evening Bells," 413-14 
Morris dancers. Old England, use 

of bells by, 21; bells of, 390 
Morristown, N. J., carillon of, 289 
Moscow, bells of, 220-27; Great 

Bell, 223-26 
Moulmein Pagoda, bells of, 346- 

Mourning, bells used for. See 
Funeral bells 



Muezzin, Turkish, 31 
Muffin bell, 379 
Muffled bells, 102, 112 
Mummy cases, bells in, 23 
Municipal bell towers, early, 366- 

Music, bell, 198; carillon, 196, 

199; rote and, 150-51; school, 

430-33. 438-41 
Music, on bells, 75-76 
Musical instruments, bells as, 149- 


Naga women, Burma, bells of, 19- 

Names, bell founders', taken from 

occupation, 62 
Names on bells: donors', 79-80; 

founders', 77-78 
Nanking, bells of, 307-8 
Napoleon, charmed by bells, 6-7 
Nara (Japan), bell of, 317-18 
National uses of bells, 5, 198 
Negro, Bahama, use of bells by, 20 
Netherlands : carillons of , 185, 216; 

chime barrel invented in, 184 
New Bell, Ivan Tower, 226; story 

of, 226-27 
New England, bells of: 268, 269, 

273-74, 275. 379. 391 
New Guinea, use of bells in, 19 
New Hebrides Islands, tree bells 

in, 12-14 
Newport, R. I., bell of, 269 
New Year, bells at, 115 
New York, bells of, 269, 274, 377- 

78; carillons, 289-92; chimes, 

284, 289 
New Zealand Maoris, Pahu of, 20 
Nimrud, bells of, 23 
Nola, bishop of. See Paulinus 
Nola, 97 n. 

Normandy, ancient bell of, 232 
Norway, bells of, 238-39, 387 
Notre Dame, bells of, 234 
Nottinghamshire, England, buried 

church of, 252 
Novgorod, bell of, 228 
Noyon, France, bell of, 232 
" Nursery Rime, A," 428-29 

"Oath, Bell," 56 
Odense, bell of, 238 
Orchestra, bells in, 154, 155-56 
Organs, bells attachments of, 152, 

Ornaments, bells as. See Dress, 
bells on 

Ornaments on bells. See Decora- 
tions on bells 

Osbom, E. G., quoted, 136, 199, 

Ottawa, Canada, carillon of, 293 

Oudoceus, St., legend of bell of, 

Oven bell, iii 

Oxford, curfew at, 105 

Oxford, "Great Tom" of, 244 

Pacific Islands, bells in, 17 

Pagodas, wind bells used on, 307, 
308, 342, 344. 345. 346, 356 

Pahu, war bell of Maoris, 20 

Pala Chapel, California, belfry of, 

Pali inscription, on Burmese bells, 

Panama, gold bells from, 32 

Pancake bell, 106-7 

Pans as bells, 432 

Pardon bell, 97 

Park Avenue Baptist Church, New 
York, carillon of, 290-92 

Parliament clock. See West- 

minster clock 

Passaic, N. J., bell of, 268 

Passing bell, 77, loo-i 

Patrick, St.: bells used by, 36; 
directs making of bells for mon- 
asteries, 41; gift of, 53; sacred 
bells of, preserved, 42—45; "St. 
Patrick's Will, Bell of," 44-45 

Paulinus, St., 35 

Peal, 125, 136, 178; in England, 
135-37; methods of ringing, 
126-34, 136. See also Change 

Pease, A. S., quoted, 28-29 

Pegu, of East India, use of bells by, 

Peking, Bell Tower of, 310-11; 
Drum Tower of, 310; Great 
Bell of, 311-14 

Penn, William, imported bell, 268 

Personification of bells, 74-75 

Peru, bells of, 21, 32 

Philadelphia, bells of, 268, 269, 
271-73. 283-84 

Philips, Maberly, quoted, 388-90 

Piao. See Te-chung 

Pien-king, Chinese musical in- 
strument, 299 



Pilgrim, bells of, 46, 325 
Pipe organs. See Organs 
Pisa: ancient bells of, 231 ; Leaning 

Tower of, 370-73 
Pitch of bells, 70, 71, 72. See also 

China, bells of 
Plaster molds, for clay bells, 435- 

Plates, substituted for bells, 31 
Plutarch, quoted, 29 
Po-chung, 300-1 
Poe, "The Bells," 425-28 
Poet laureates, among bell ringers, 

Poetry of bells, 402-29 
Poole, History of Ecclesiastical 

Architecture, quoted, 375-76 
Poor Robin's Almanac, quoted, 106 
Porcelain Tower, Nanking, bells 

on, 307-8 
Portable bells, Celtic, 56; legends 

of, 47-55 
Portugal, carillons bought by 

John V of, 192-93 
Post, used to ring bell, 120 
Postman's bell, 379 
Pottery bells. See Clay bells 
Priests, use of bell by, 19, 24, 25, 

26, 30, 335. 352, 390 
Primitive peoples, bells of, 9-21, 

390; bamboo, 17; metal, 17-18; 

uses of, 18-21; wooden, 10-16 
Primitive peoples, music of, 149- 

Prince of Wales Youths, 139 
Prizes, bells used as, 27 
Protestants, dedication of bells by, 

Pudding bell, 97 
Push button, 394 
Pyatkal, bell canopy, 342 

Quarter bells, 161, 164, 166, 182 
Quartet, bell, school, 439; chorale 

for, 440 
Quebec, peals of, 137 
Queen cow, bell of (Hindu), 333 

Ragman's bell, 380 

Rangoon, bells of Shwe Dagon 
Pagoda of, 342-44 

Rattle: African ceremonial, 18; 
bell developed from, 10; de- 
fined, II w. 

Recasting of bells, 68 

Recitals, carillon, 195 

Reformation, ends bell baptism, 93 
Reindeer bells, 387 
Relics, bells as (Ireland), 42 
Religious uses of bells: in Asia, 
351-58; to attract attention, 
335;. Brahmin priests, 335-37; 
on buffalo, 20; call monks to 
prayer, 158; in China, 298; 
Christian, 34-40; in Egypt, 24- 
25; in Greek rites, 26; in Hindu 
rituals, 333-35; in India, 337, 
338; in Japan, 25; for music, 
150, 152; in New Hebrides, 13- 
14; by priests, 390. See also 
Temple bells 
Revere, Paul, bell caster, 274 
Reverence for bells, 42, 46 
Rice, William G., quoted, 71-72, 

194, 205-7, 208 
Ring, defined, 178 
Ringers. See Bell ringers 
"Ringing City" (Avignon), 233 
"Ringing Isle" (England), 128, 

135. 139. 193 
Ringing of bells, methods of, 118- 

21, 123, 125-26 
Ringing Societies, 138-48; per- 
formances, 139; poetry of, 146; 
rules of, 140-45 
Riveted bells, 57-58, 232 
"Roland," bell of Ghent, 208, 

Rome, ancient: bells of, 26-30; 
bell to announce bath, 34; bell 
legend of, 266-67 ; bell in Miller 
collection, 399; bells used for 
rausic, 149; St. Peter's Church, 
bell of, 232 
Rope, burning, as time measure, 

Ropes, bells rung by, 118, 119, 

120, 121, 122, 125-26, 228 
Rostov bell, 228 
Rotary yokes, 123-24 
Rote and bell music, 150-51 
Rotterdam, carillon of, 211 
Rouen, "Ambroise Bell," 233 
Round ringing, 126 
Round towers. See Towers, round 
Royalty, bell used by, 18-19, 27 
Runic inscription, 239 
Ruskin, quoted, 373-75 
Russia: bells of, 220-30; appre- 
ciation of bells, 229-30; bell 
towers, 116; bells on trees, 116; 
campaniles of, 375; early bells 



imported, 220; fixed bells, 228; 
reverence for bells, 351; ringing 
of bells, 228; saddle bells of, 
387-88; sleigh bells of, 387 

Sabinianus, Pope, 35 

Sacred uses of bells. See Religious 
uses of bells 

Sacring bells, 97-98; as chime, 98; 
wheels of, in Spain, 98 

Saddle bells, 387-88 

St. Bartholomew massacre, bells 
rung for, 112 

St. Dunstan's bell, Canterbury 
Cathedral, 243 

St. Fillians, magic bells of, 49-50 

St. George de Bocherville Church, 
Normandy, musical decoration 
in, 152 

St. Mark, Venice: campanile, 370; 
clock, 160 

St. Mary-le-Bow, chimes of, 186 

St. Michael's Church, S. C, his- 
tory of chimes in, 275-77 

St. Nicholas, Cathedral of, 220 

St. Oudoceus. See Oudoceus, St. 

St. Patrick. See Patrick, St. 

St. Paul's Cathedral (London) : 
chimes, 186; dedication of bells 
of, 95, 146-48; "Great Paul" of, 
246; hour bell of, 244-45 

St. Paul's Churchyard, bells of, 

St. Peter's Church, Rome, bell of, 

St. Rombold's Tower, carillon of. 
See Mechlin carillon 

"St. Senan, Golden Bell of," 47 

St. Sepulchre's bell, 382-83 

St. Stephen, Burgundy, bells of, 
84, 247 

St. Stephen, Vienna, bell of, 237 

St. Stephen Ringers, Society of, 
rules of, 140-41 

Saints, names of, on bells, 75 

"Salvator," name of bell, 203 

Sanctus bell. See Sacring bell 

San Diego Mission, California, 281 

San Francisco de la Espada Mis- 
sion, Texas, 278 

San Gabriel Mission Belfry, Cali- 
fornia, 282 

San Jose de Aguayo Mission, 
Texas, 278 

San Luis Ray Mission, California, 

Savages, bells of. See Primitive 

peoples, bells of 
Saxon law, on bells, 362 
Saxony, bell of, 237, 238 
Scale, Chinese, bells fix tones of, 

149, 294, 295, 298 
School experiments in bell making 

and playing, 430-41; with pots, 

goblets, bowls, etc., 430-32; 

wooden bells, 432-33; clay bells, 

433-39; quartet, 439-40 
Scotland, bell legend of, 49-50, 

249-50; tree belfry in, 116 
Scott, Michael, legend of, 256-57 
Scott, Sir Walter, quoted, 40, 

112-13, 256 
Seeding bell, 109 
Series of bells: ringing, 111-12; 

backward- ringing, 1 12-13 
Sermon bell, 97 
Servia, bell towers of, 116 
Seven Lamps of Architecture, 

quoted, 373-75 
Shakespeare, quoted, 106 
Shao-hsing, tolling rime of, 353 
Sheep bells, 21, 23, 384 
Ship bells, 392; time marked b^-. 

Shrove Tuesday, pancake bell, 

Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Burma, bells 

on, 342-44 
"SiciHan's Tale, The— The Bell of 

Atri," Longfellow, 404-8 
Sicilian Vespers, bells rung for, 

Siena Cathedral, ancient bell of, 

Signals, bells used as (China), 295; 

danger, bells used as, 11 1; hand 

bell used as domestic, 380-82; 

musical instruments used as 

(China), 294 
Signum, 97 n. 
Silver, in bells, 60 
Silver bells, 60 
Sistriim, in Egypt, 24, 25; in 

Abyssinia, 24 
Sleigh bells, 156, 387 
Slider (bell part), 119 
Snakes, bells a protection from, 

Song Dynasty, China, music of, 

"Song of the Bel^ " Longfellow, 




South America, bells of, 15, 32 
Southey, quoted, 134-35; "The 
Inchcape Rock," 402-4, (men- 
tioned) 391 
South Sea Islands, Lali in, 14-15 
Spain, bells of, 241; bells from, in 
America, 279; IdcU of, in Miller 
collection, 401; bell ringers of, 

Spanish missions, 277-79, 282-83; 

bells of, 241, 279-82 
"Spire of Strasburg Cathedral, 

The," Longfellow, 421-23 
Squilla, 96 n. 
Staghorn. See Antler 
Stationary bells, 118, 123-24; in 
. America, 124; for chimes, 178 
Stay (bell part), 119 
Steel bells, 60 

Stock (bell part), 1 18-19, 122 
Stone gongs, 17 
"Stone of Gratitude, The," bell 

legend, 266-67, (mentioned) 306 
Storm bell, 90-91, 108; inscrip- 
tion on, 75 
Strasburg: Cathedral clock, 159- 

60; "Holy Ghost beU," 108 
"Strasburg Cathedral, The Spire 

of," Longfellow, 421-23 
Strokes, bell, 131, 133 
Submerged bells, legends of, 253- 

Submerged churches. See Buried 

Sundial, 158 

Sung-ching. See Po-chimg 
Superstitions, bell, 351. See also 

Legends, bell 
Sweden, bells of, 239; legend, 265- 

Swinging bells, 118-22, 124, 136- 

37; for change ringing, 136-37; 

method of ringing, 178; music 

of, compared to carillon music, 

Switzerland: cowbells of, 384-85; 

bells of muleteers of, 117; bell 

ringers of, 154-55; bell tradition 

of, 91 
Symbolism of bells, 47 

Taber, Mary S., quoted, 378 
Table bells, 380-81; Italian, 380- 

81; French, 381 
T'ai-chow, tolling rime of, 353 

Tambour carillon, 188-89 
Tambourine: defined, 11 n.; used 

as signal, 295 
Tancho, story of, 38-39 
Tartary, foundries of, 298 
Taylor bell foundry, 198, 211-12, 

Tchung. See Chung 
Teak, temple bells of, 16 
Te-chiing, Chinese bell, 299, 301 
Temple bells, 16; Buddhist, 355- 

56, 357-58; Burmese, 342, 346, 

347; Chinese, 300, 302, 303, 304, 

305, 308, 311-15; Chinese, in 

Miller Bell Collection, 401; 

Hindu, 335; Japanese, 316, 319, 

320, 322, 323, 324 
Tennyson, "In Memoriam," 411- 

Texas, missions of, 278-79 
"Those Evening Bells," Moore, 

Thucydides, quoted, 29 
Time marker, bell used as, 158; 

in Japan, 324-25. See also 

Clock bells 
To, Chinese bell, 304 
Toledo, Spain, bell of, 241 ; stories, 

Tolling of bells, 101-2; in Buddhist 

monasteries, 352-55; for King 

Edward VII, 5; for Lincoln, 5; 

manner of, 352-53; of own 

accord, 85; reason for, 353-55. 

See also Funeral bells 
Tolon-noor foundries, 298 
Tombs, bells in: Assyrian, 149; 

Etruscan, 30, 149; in Egypt, 23; 

in Greece, 26; in India, 332 
Tom's Tower, 244 
Tone of bells, 70, 71. 72-73 
"Tong, Great Bell of," 243 
Tonga Islands, Lali in, 14-15 
Toronto, Canada, carillon of, 213, 

Toscin, 112 

Toulouse, bell tower of, 367 
Towers, church: development of, 

375-76; made for bells, 359-61; 

round, Irish, 364-66 
Town criers, 159, 378, 379 
Towns: English, use of bells by, 

39-40; French, punished by 

losing bells, 234. Bell towers of, 

zee Municipal bell towers 



Train bells, 391 

Travelers, directed by church 

bells, 107-8 
Tree bells, 12-14 
Triangle, defined, 11 n. 
Trinity Church, New York, bells 

of, 269 
Triple-standard bell (China), 298 
Trotzk, bell of, 228 
Tschaikovsky, "Overture of 

1812," 230 
Tubaphone, 156 
Tubular bells, 156 
Tuning of bells, 70-73 
Tunnoc, Richard, bell founder, 61 
Turketul, hangs peal, 36-37 
Turkeys, bells on, 385 
Turks, bells forbidden by, 31 
' ' Turn Again Whittington , ' ' 

Chime music, 182 
Tyrolese Alps, bells of, 91 

Uhland (German poet), quoted, 

Union Scholars, Society of, 139 
Universities, American, chimes in, 

Utrecht carillon, 211 

Van Aerschodt, Felix, carillon 

maker, 196-98 
"Van den Gheyn, A., 203 
Van den Gheyn, Pieter, carillon 

maker, 196, 198, 203 
Venice, St. Mark's: Campanile, 

370; clock, 160 
Verona, bell of, 231 
Vibrations of bells, 117, 156-57 
Victory Tower, Ottawa, Canada, 

. carillon in, 293 
Vienna, St. Stephen's, bell of, 237 
"Voice of the Bells, The," 181 

Wagon bells, 388-90 

Wales, bells of, 46, 49 

Warfare, bells in. See Military 

uses of bells 
Warner foundry, 169 
Watchman, night, 159, 378 

Wax model, in bell manufacture, 

64, 66 
Wedding bells, 115 
Wedding peal, at maiden's death, 

Wei-shun, Chinese bell, 305-6 
West and East, bells of, compared, 

Westminster, "Great Tom" of, 

162, 245; story of, 163-64 
Westminster Chimes, 168 
Westminster Clock, 168. See also 

Big Ben 
Westminster Quarters, 164 
Westminster Youths, 139 
Wheel, used in ringing bell, 119, 

120, 122, 125 
Whittington legend, no, 138, 260- 

Wigram, Rev. Woolmore, quoted, 

William the Conqueror, and bells, 

7; enforces curfew law, 103, 104 
Wind bells: of China, 306-8; of 

India, 339 
Window, "bell founder's," 61-62 
Wiltshire, bell legend of, 247-48 
Wolsey, Cardinal, inscription on 

bell of, 77 
Wooden bells, 10-16; African, 11- 

12, 16; Chinese, 16, 304-5; for 

elephants, 12; Lali, 14-15; of 

tree trunk, 12-14. •S'^^ also 

Bamboo bells 
Worcester chimes, 186 
World War, curfew used during, 


Yale College, bell at, 275 

Yokes, rotary, 123-24 

York: "Great Peter" of, 245; 

minster chimes, 186 
York Cathedral, bell founder's' 

window in, 61-62 
Yoll bells (Mexico), 33 
Yu the Great, bell signals of, 295 
Yung-chung, Chinese bell, 302 

Zozoji, bell of, destroyed, 319 


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3 5002 00264 0113 

Coleman, Satis N. 

Bells : their history, legends, making. 

ImL 1039 C67 

Coleman. Satis Narron« 
(Barton) 1878- 


ML 1039 







) '1878-